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  The research archive of Gary W. Ewer regarding the history of the daguerreotype

During the month of July, in the year 1839, the following extract appeared as part of an article in "The American Journal of Science and Arts." (New Haven) Vol.37, No. 1 (July 1839) pages 169-170). Three articles related to photography appeared in this issue, the last being the eyewitness account by Sir John Robison, which is available on The Daguerreian Society website at: http://www.daguerre.org/resource/texts/perfect.html - - - - - - - - - MISCELLANIES. DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN 1. Pictorial delineations by light; solar, lunar, stellar, and artificial, called Photogenic and the art Photography. Remark.--The great interest excited by this subject induces us to postpone the greater part of the miscellany which we had prepared and even set up for the present number, that we may make room for general notices from foreign Journal--detailing the history of the processes as far as known, and the most perfect state of the art, as far as it has gone. I. Photogenic Drawings.* [paragraphs 3 through 6] . . .But in the meanwhile M. Daguerre, it appears, struck by some hints he had received from a friend, has steadily pursued his experiments for the last twenty years, and having at length attained his object has declared his discoveries and claimed the invention as his own. Full and satisfactory descriptions are promised by M. Arago and two other scientific engineers appointed to report on the subject, and in the interval a slight outline has been given in the French papers, from which the following account is taken. A polished metallic plate is the substance made use of, and being placed within the apparatus is in a few minutes removed and finished by a slight mechanical operation. The sketch thus produced is in appearance something similar to aquatint, but greatly superior in delicacy; and such is the extraordinary precision of the detail that the most powerful microscope serves but to display the perfection of the copy. The first efforts of the inventor were directed towards architectural subjects, and a view of the Louvre and Notre Dame are among the most admired of these engravings. In foliage he is less successful; the constant motion in the leaves rendering his landscape confused and-unmeaning; and the same objection necessarily applies to all moving objects, which can never be properly delineated without the aid of memory. But in the execution of any stationary subject, buildings, statues, flowers, the leaves of plants, or the bodies of animals, the fac-simile is perfect; and the value of the invention may therefore be easily conceived. Several eminent artists have examined the designs, and were equally delighted with the precision and delicacy of the representation. Among the sketches exhibited by the projector was a marble bas-relief and plaster imitation; the first glance was sufficient to detect the difference between these two; and in three views of a monument taken in the morning, noon, and evening, the spectators easily distinguished the hours at which they were executed, by the difference of the light, though in the first and last instances, the sun was at an equal altitude. But perhaps the anatomist or zoologist will derive the greatest advantages from the discovery, the form of the animal being as easily studied from the drawing as from the original, and the most powerful microscopes not having hitherto detected the smallest deficiency in the details. Nor is the invention devoid of interest to the astronomer, for the light of the moon is sufficient to produce the usual results, requiring only additional time for its operations. The following extract from "Le Commerce" is sufficient to substantiate its value in this respect:--The experiments on the light of Sirius have confirmed the testimony of natural philosophy, and abundantly proved that the stars are bodies of the same nature as the sun; at the request of M. Biot, M. Daguerre has submitted his apparatus to the influence of the light of the moon, and has succeeded in fixing the image of that luminary. We observed that the image had a trail of light something like the tail of a comet, and we ascribe it to the movement of the body during the operation, which is of much longer duration than that by the light of the sun." * Foreign Quarterly Review, No. 81 -------------------------------------------------------------- 07-26-99

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