The Scenic Daguerreotype: Romanticism and Early Photography

The Scenic Daguerreotype: Romanticism and Early Photography

by John Wood

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Invented in 1839, daguerreotypes were small (the largest being 61/2" x 81/2") and could not be reproduced because there were no negatives. These two titles provide a visual reflection of the 19th century through these images and confirm the beauty and elegance of the early images themselves. Both volumes contain essays by Wood, a noted historian of early photography, who suggests that daguerreotypists regarded themselves as artists and recognized the artistic value inherent in photography. Secrets of the Dark Chamber contains 152 plates of hand-tinted daguerreotypes (many never before published) currently on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American Art. They include portraits, landscapes, and scenes of daily life produced in America from 1839 until the Civil War. Foresta, Smithsonian curator and organizer of the exhibition, discusses the immense popularity of the medium in America, while Wood assesses America's literary response to the invention. Selections from newspapers, magazines, and diaries provide firsthand accounts from artistic, scientific, and philosophical perspectives. The importance of daguerreotypes during the westward expansion and California Gold Rush is especially noteworthy. The Scenic Daguerreotype presents 100 plates of landscapes from around the world. Here Wood examines the influence of romanticism-namely, the paintings of Constable and Turner and the poetry of Wordsworth-on European and American daguerreotypy. Wood indicates that scenic daguerreotypes can be unsettling because they reveal the desecration of our planet. Both books are strongly recommended for general and photographic history collections.-Joan Levin, MLS, Chicago

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University of Iowa Press
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8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 1.30(d)

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