In November 1789, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre was born near paris, in the village of Cormeilles.
In 1803 he began work as an apprentice architect and a theatre scene painter in a Paris theater. Daguerre was proficient with the use of the camera obscura as an aid to painting in perspective, mainly in use for his thatrical set designs.
In 1824 Daguerre began his research on developing a photographic technique, based on work performed by Thomas Wedgwood in 1806, using plates of metal and glass and variations in light sensitive coatings.
In 1826 he learned of the work of Joseph Nicephore Niepce, and on 1829 he was introduced to Niepce by M. Vincent Chevalier, an optician. Niepce and Daguerre go into a 10-year partnership partnership after Daguerre discloses his work.
In 1833 Nicephore Niepce dies and Daguerre carries on to invent glass plates and
In 1835, He made an important discover, believed to be by accident. An exposed plate was left in his chemical cupboard and found several days later. the exposed image had developed. Daguerre eventually concluded that this was due to the presence of mercury vapour from a broken thermometer. This important discovery made it possible to reduce the exposure time from some eight hours to thirty minutes.
Though he now knew how to produce an image, it was not until 1837 that he discovers that an image can be fixed permanent by immersing it in salt. This new process he proudly called Daguerreotype.
On August 19th, 1839, noted French astronomer, M. Arago presented, Daguerre's process for fixing images of the camera obscura onto a plate, to the French government. The French government purchased the process for an annual pension of 10,000 francs to Daguerre and M. Niepce, whose father had contributed towards the discovery of the Daguerreotype. The French government publicly announced the process and provided it free to the world in August 1839.
In July 1851 Daguerre died at the age of 62. Ironically the same year the wet collodion process was introduced by Frederick Scott Archer, which quickly replaced the Daguerre process.
The name Daguerre is first that comes to mind when you think of the invention of Photography.
The engraving above of Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre was drawn from an original daguerreotype taken by Charles Meade in 1848 and can be viewed at the smithsonian website by clicking here
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