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

Today's post is appended with note from Greg Walker. . . On this day (July 29) in the year 1842, the following appeared in the "New-York Weekly Tribune": - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - DAGUERREOTYPE.--The following suggestions have been made to the American Institute by Henry Meigs, Esq., one of its members. If he is correct this new discovery can never become available in obtaining exact likenesses to the extent we had hoped. Mr. M. states that according to the laws of optics no exact likeness can be obtained either larger or smaller than the original subject. As the rays of light converge to produce the miniature those points which are most prominent will be unnaturally large, while those points in the rear will be equally too small. This will be seen strikingly shown in all the foreshortenings. And in the nature of things this will remain an incurable defect. Equally so with an enlarged likeness, except that the divergence of the rays will produce an effect exactly opposite to that of their convergence. No Daguerreotype likeness can be made except of the precise dimensions of the subject taken. The pencil of the artist will therefore preserve its superiority for drawing as well as color, in all cases when the likeness shall be made larger or smaller than the subject. (with thanks to Joe Bauman for this item) ----------------------------------------------------------------- Gary, Many thanks for this wonderful critique of the truthfulness of the Daguerreotype image! It is a perfect example of correct observation (distortion in photographic image) with an incorrect conclusion (manual drawing is superior). It would tie in nicely with discussions of the "photographic idiom" and how modern viewers are so accustomed to various distortions of perspective as to not even notice them. Thanks again, Greg Walker gwalker@netcom.com ----------------------------------------------- 7-29-96

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