Mirrors with a memory

The influence of Daguerreotype on the art of portraiture


Since the late Renaissance, artists and inventors had been looking for a mechanical method to capture visual scenes. From this time on it had been known what a camera obscura could do, but the real breakthrough in the direction of experimenting photography came around 1802 with the observation that certain chemicals were light sensitive. In 1839, it finally was Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851), an academically trained French painter, who at the ‘Académie Française’ in Paris, announced his methods of fixing images on a mirrored metal plate, and by this his production of one-of images. His daguerreotypes were seen as ‘mirrors with a memory’. Daguerreotypes today still can be seen as small prodigies of nature and present us with a visual experience that is quite unique.


The forthcoming exhibition focuses on several daguerreotypes and describes its technique and its influence on the art of portraiture.


Carte-de-Visite (Albumen print, ca. 1890) of Dirk Berkouwer (1860-1946)

Copy of a Daguerreotype of Aart
 Berkouwer (1822-1905)