Silver Messenger: A Special Selection of Portrait Daguerreotypes

Exhibited and Sold By
Contemporary Works / Vintage Works, Ltd.

258 Inverness Circle
Chalfont, Pennsylvania   18914   USA

Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith

Email info@vintageworks.net

Phone +1-215-822-5662

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By Alex Novak

This is a special selection of portrait daguerreotypes from slightly over $400 to a several hundred thousand dollars. All have a quality that sets them off from the average nice image. Whether it is the pose or light or overall strength of image, these are all winners.

Daguerreotypes were really the first form of photography. Their mirror surface and small size give them a gem-like quality that makes them so eminently collectible.

Almost from the very beginning the human form was incorporated into daguerreotypes--even as early as 1839.

By the summer of 1841 daguerreotypes could be taken in seconds instead of minutes. The business in portrait daguerreotypes was soon booming, partially making the statement that "from this moment on, painting is dead" at least partially true. The invention of the daguerreotype definitely cut dramatically into most portrait painters' business.

Soon the daguerreotype put some of these portrait artists back to work--hand coloring daguerreotypes! Flesh colors, a bit of gold for jewelry, tinting on dresses and table cloths and even very beautiful cloud covered backdrops were all created by these artists' hands, adding even more realism to the daguerreotype.

The group offered for sale here represents a fine selection of this daguerreian portrait art by some of the best artists of their day, including Southworth & Hawes, Robert Vance and Abraham Bogardus. But most are the work of those anonymous craftspeople who captured their subjects with humility and grace.