On August 20, 1839 Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre and his PR flack, scientist Francois Arago, presented the world (and, in particular, the French Academy of Sciences) with its first photographic media event. The wily Daguerre wangled an annuity for himself from the French government in exchange for "giving" the process to the world at large, with the major exception being the despised British, who still had to pay licensing fees to Daguerre. The announcement prompted William Henry Fox Talbot to hurriedly announce his own more comprehensive solution, heralding the era of the photographic image. It also prompted independent inventor Hippolyte Bayard to take a picture of himself as having committed suicide, because of the French governments unconcern for HIS photographic process, which was paper based, but unlike Talbot's, was a direct positive process. Bayard was actually the first person to actually exhibit photographic images. More on that self-portrait and others in the Jammes sale story below.
William Becker's American Museum of Photography (www.photographymuseum.com) marked this 160th anniversary of photography's birth with a special Internet Event. Its usually staid home page took on a festive look--complete with an engraving of photography inventor Louis Daguerre doing the Macarena (well, at least that's what we think he's doing!).
More important than the brief salute to Daguerre's announcement is the site's new internet gallery exhibit, "The Daguerreotypes of Southworth & Hawes." This new exhibition features images by the first American masters of photography-- Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes, whose studio in Boston produced some of the finest portraits of all time using the process invented by Daguerre. The daguerreotypes in the exhibition were among the 240 Southworth & Hawes images rediscovered last year in a basement in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The daguerreotypes--unknown and unseen for 60 years--sold for more than three million dollars at auction in April (see my first newsletter for extensive details of this sale).
Along with the images, visitors to the web exhibit (direct address: www.photographymuseum.com/sandh1.html ) will find an 1855 review of Southworth & Hawes' photography and other period information. There's also Bill Becker's own report of the April auction at Sotheby's.