Louis-Jacques-Mendé Daguerre (18 November 1787 – 10 July 1851).
Better known as Louis Daguerre, he is an Artist, Painter and Inventor of French origin, recognized for having invented the Diorama and daguerreotype, a method considered as the first step towards the development of current photography. Daguerre was also the first driver of the dissemination of this new method of fixing images in the Parisian public.
Louise Daguerre was born on 18 November 1781 in Cormeilles-en-Parisis, France, into a prosperous family of realistic political inclination. The years of political tensions France experienced resulted in Daguerre’s life being a somewhat bumpy formal education. From an early age he expressed a taste and great talent for drawing.
When he turned thirteen he began as an apprentice to an architect, where he learned the concept of perspective.
Some time later he began working under the tutelage of Degoti, a renowned stage designer, with whom he remained for three years, before becoming Prevost’s assistant, famous and quoted Parisian set designer. Daguerre would know the theater trade, in which he would quickly gain fame for his brilliant works.
In 1804, Louis Daguerre decided to move to Paris, in order to study Painting, a field where he is recognized for his work “Mass of the Rooster in Saint-Etienne-du Mont”, considered by experts to be a piece full of realism, thanks to the great mastery of perspective by part of its author.
It is believed that by 1820, Daguerre had already invented the Diorama, a three-dimensional installation, where landscapes or historical scenes are painted on a curved background, which through a game of lights create the viewer the feeling of being in the middle of real scenes.
Due to the need for increasingly realistic images, Daguerre became interested in trying to apply, in his show, the principle of the dark chamber, known since ancient times by the Greeks.
His interest in securing the projected images on a surface led him to meet Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, who had obtained in 1825 the first permanent photograph, although to achieve this he needed at least eight hours of exposure.
After signing a contract in late 1829, where Daguerre assumed Niépece had previously found a method of fixing images, he and Niépce worked together to perfect the technique.
In 1833, Niépce died, for his part Daguerre continued to work until in 1835, in an oversight he placed a plaque that had been exposed inside a cabinet, later discovering that the image had been fixed, thanks to a process of revealing, produced by Mercury’s fumes.
Daguerre used, in obtaining fixed images, silver copper plates, which he subjected to treatments of Yodo vapours, which after being exposed were subjected to mercury vapours in order to reveal the image, which was finally fixed with salt and salt water warm, perfecting the Niépce method, and reducing the fixation time to twenty minutes.
Daguerre obtained his first photograph in 1838, which was taken at Boulevard du Temple and records a man and a boy polishing his shoes.
However, some historians claim that this is a composition made by actors hired by Daguerre, who posed during the minutes the picture required to achieve the image, having previously discovered that when taking the photo without an object or still subject nothing was on the plate. In 1839 he presented to the Academy of Sciences in Paris, and patented his invention under the name Daguerreotype.
In 1835 things began to go a little bad for his business, due to an outbreak of cholera that produced a significant drop in public attendance at his Diorama shows. In addition to the great economic loss by the dwindling income, in 1839 he faced an even worse tragedy when his theater caught fire.
Fortunately for Daguerre, the French Government decided to allocate a lifetime pension of six thousand francs per year, as well as a four thousand francs for Niépce’s son, in order to make public use of the invention. With this sum, more than the generated by the insurance of work managed to live modestly.
In 1840 he retired from public life, returning to his first trade: the painting of dioramas, this time contracted by the churches of Bry-sur-Marne. Finally, on 10 July 1851, at the age of 63, Louise Daguerre died.
In his honor, his name was inscribed on the Eiffel Tower, along with seventy-two other great French scientists. Also, on August 19, 2006, at the Zarauz Museum of Photography in Guipúzcoa a monolith was erected in his name.
Image source: thesecondflash.blogspot.com
July 28, 2019