The George Eastman House has just uploaded several new sets on to flickr. Portrait photographers will be interested in the excellent and extensive selection of Southworth & Hawes daguerreotypes, long considered among the early masterpieces of photographic portraiture.
Mike (Thanks to els)
Featured Comment by Geoff Wittig: "The Eastman House Southworth & Hawes show was a landmark exhibition; there were literally hundreds of images, from delicate tiny locket photos to spectacular 'whole plate' Daguerreotypes of unbelievable quality. They are essentially a first generation contact image, with great detail rendition in larger examples. As others have noted, Daguerreotypes are impossible to reproduce accurately; they are subtle metal-on-metal images with an almost holographic quality, and the appearance changes with the lighting and the viewer's position. I went back to see the exhibition in Rochester repeatedly, just to get a sense in my head of what the images really looked like.
"Southworth & Hawes were sort of like the Yousef Karsh or Annie Leibovitz of their day. Celebrities and politicians from far and wide beat a path to their door for an official portrait. Some of the preachers genuinely look and pose like rock stars. The portraits of icons like Ralph Waldo Emerson are remarkably contemporary.
"The exhibition's catalogue (Young America: The Daguerreotypes of Southworth and Hawes) is a remarkable effort to reproduce the images. Printed on very glossy stock, it comes as close as you can get to imitating the Daguerreotype effect. It's still available from Amazon, heavily discounted from the original $120 price.
"Many Daguerreotypes were indeed hand-colored after development for a specific artistic effect. The subtleties of the 'plain' images are wonderful, but obviously there was a market for such colorized versions. They have a lot in common pictorially with other crude attempts at colorizing monochrome images."