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Table of Contents
Born on November 18, 1787, Louis Daguerre was a French artist, photographer, and physicist who was credited for his invention of the daguerreotype, one of the earliest practical methods of photography. In the 1820s, he began experimenting with the effects of light on translucent paintings. Although he eventually became known as one of the pioneers of photography, Daguerre also developed the diorama theater.
See the fact file below for more information on the Louis Daguerre or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Louis Daguerre worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
- Born on November 18, 1787, in the small town of Cormeilles, Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre grew up in a middle-class household. His parents were Louis Jacques Daguerre and Anne Antoinette Hauterre. Later on, his family moved to Orléans.
- His father was a known royalist, even naming one of Louis’s sisters after the infamous queen of France, Marie Antoinette, during the height of the French Revolution.
- Due to the political turmoil at the time, Louis’s education was halted, but despite this, he managed to develop his talent for drawing. At age 13, he worked as an apprentice for a local architect, which was often linked to him being an inland revenue officer around the same period.
- At age 16, Daguerre traveled to Paris to learn panoramic painting with Pierre Prévost, the first French panorama painter. Meant to be shown in theaters, panoramas were huge, curved types of paintings.
- Consequently, Daguerre was able to practice his education when he worked at the Opéra de Paris as a set designer for operatic productions under the mentorship of I. E. M. Degotti. Due to his excellent dancing abilities, he was also able to work as a stage extra at the Opéra.
- As he continued working as a lighting director for many Parisian theaters, Daguerre established a reputation for his great theatrical sceneries, often depicting atmospheric landscapes and night effects. This artistry was evident in many of his prestigious productions, including Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp.
- In 1821, Daguerre invented the diorama theater with French panorama painter Charles Marie Bouton, although the latter eventually withdrew from the project.
- The diorama was staged at a custom-built theater that could accommodate up to 350 people. The rotating room, usually around 12 meters in diameter, would allow the audience to watch hand-painted landscapes and architectural views, presented through a large translucent screen using lighting effects and intense perspective.
- In addition, color filters were utilized to produce movement, coupled with sound effects, theater props, and even human figures. The show usually lasted around 10-15 minutes before it would rotate to present an entirely different show.
- In July 1822, Daguerre opened the first diorama theater in Paris next to his own studio, where he exhibited two tableaux, one of his own and another by Bouton, which eventually became the pattern of the shows. In the fall of 1823, he established his second diorama theater in the Regent’s Park of London.
- Although the diorama was a critical success, sometimes credited as the first form of cinema, they were expensive to create. During the mid-1830s, Daguerre struggled with financial support, which was worsened by the cholera outbreak in Paris, which led to lower ticket sales.
- Looking for a way to incorporate his mechanically produced images into his diorama system, Daguerre partnered with Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, who produced the world’s first-ever photograph through his heliographic process in 1826.
- The heliographic printing involved a photo-engraved plate technique to stabilize an image captured via a camera obscura, from which several prints could be produced.
- In 1832, Daguerre and Niépce successfully created stable images within an eight-hour exposure time. This process became known as the Physautotype, and it utilized a photosensitive agent based on lavender oil.
- Unfortunately, Niépce died in 1833, leaving Daguerre to continue with the experiment on his own. In 1835, Daguerre made an improvement. By chance, he discovered that mercury vapor from a broken thermometer could reduce the time it took for a latent image to form from eight hours to only 30 minutes.
- The discovery was eventually known as the daguerreotype, the first modern photographic technique. It was a direct-positive method that produced a remarkably detailed image on a sheet of copper that had been plated with a light coating of silver without needing a negative.
- The procedure required extreme caution. First, the silver-coated copper plate needed to be washed and polished until it had a mirror-like surface. Following this, the plate was sensitized in a closed box with iodine until it turned yellow-rose. The plate was then moved to the camera, which was kept in a light-proof holder.
- After being exposed to light, the plate would be placed over hot mercury, allowing the photograph to emerge. The plate was then toned with gold chloride after being submerged in sodium thiosulfate or salt-based solution in order to fix the photograph.
- On August 19, 1839, Daguerre formally introduced the daguerreotype method of photography to the public when the French Academy of Sciences held a meeting in Paris. A week earlier, he had registered the patent for England, halting the development of the daguerreotype process in the country.
- By the end of the year, Daguerre and Niépce’s son, Isidore Niépce, sold the rights of the invention to the French government, followed by the publication of a booklet detailing the method. It then saw great commercial success.
- Due to his remarkable invention, Daguerre received an annual stipend of 6,000 francs from the French government. He used this money to support himself, as well as an insurance payout from a fire that ruined his theater in 1839. Niépce’s son also received an annuity of 4,000 francs from the government.
- Moreover, Daguerre became a French Legion of Honor awardee. In the same year, he was made Honorary Academician at the National Academy of Design.
- In honor of his achievement, a daguerreotype company was also established, with a portion of the profit going to both Daguerre and Niépce’s son.
- As new improvements of Daguerre’s original design came out, the daguerreotype became next to obsolete in the 1850s.
- Daguerre spent his retirement in the small village of Bry-sur-Marne, painting diorama tableaux for the local churches there. On July 10, 1851, he died of heart failure. He was 63 years old.
Louis Daguerre Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Louis Daguerre across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Louis Daguerre worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Louis Daguerre who was a French artist, photographer, and physicist who was credited for his invention of the daguerreotype, one of the earliest practical methods of photography. In the 1820s, he began experimenting with the effects of light on translucent paintings. Although he eventually became known as one of the pioneers of photography, Daguerre also developed the diorama theater.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Louis Daguerre Facts
- Find the Words
- Louis Daguerre: A Timeline
- The Development of the Daguerreotype
- Daguerreotype: The Process
- Statement Analysis
- Daguerreotype: A Collection
- Diorama Theater and Paintings
- Louis Daguerre: His Legacy
- My Life in Photographs
- In a Nutshell
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