Louis Jacques Daguerre

Louis Jacques Daguerre biography
Jean-Baptiste Sabatier-Blot (1801-1881) - Public Domain

Louis Jacques Daguerre biography

Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (November 18, 1787 – July 10, 1851) was a French painter and inventor, pioneer of photography. He was born in Cormeilles, Paris. Within a bourgeois family of Basque ancestry. His father was a cleric, who did not have great economic resources. So, he received a very basic education that ended at fourteen. At this age, he had to learn to fend for himself. Although at the beginning it was difficult, his frank intelligence and using his extraordinary aptitude for drawing, Daguerre began as an architect’s practitioner. In this work he learned to draw plans, draw and draw in perspective.

Such instructions were used in his favor to perform as an apprentice with the famous and famous scenario designer for theater and opera, Degoti. He continued in this work for three years, which he left in 1804 to become an assistant to Prevost, the most outstanding set designer in Paris at the time. Daguerre took this opportunity to publicize his knowledge and work. His works consecrated him among the most important men of the theater in his time.

His works reached the summit when he created and directed his show called Hall of the Diorama, in a gigantic venue 100 meters long by 20 wide, large painted canvases were arranged, with these canvases it was to give the feeling of three-dimensional reality with the help of tools such as lights and transparencies that impacted the canvases. Unfortunately, on March 8, 1838, a disastrous fire destroyed the building where the work was located. Daguerre was devastated and very depressed by this situation.

Louis Daguerre, put his eyes on another project, contacted his compatriot Nicéphore Niépce, who since 1820 experimented with Judea bitumen plates inside a dark chamber, in which he obtained rudimentary photographic images after an exhibition of several hours, and proposed an alliance to carry out several projects, one of them the perfecting of the procedure of fixation of the image, to reduce the times of exhibition and to obtain instantaneous images of great clarity.

His interest in the photographic process was great. It was not a baseless whim. Daguerre was a painter and was aware that at that time the bourgeoisie increasingly demanded more portraits, but the remuneration was not the same. The new social class wanted to immortalize himself, but not continuously had the resources to solve the high costs that represented a large portrait. For this reason, cheap pictorial techniques were created in the art market. In this situation, it was necessary to create new profitable methods.

Daguerre always showed more enthusiasm and enthusiasm than Niepce, so he went ahead despite the difficulties. With great commercial vision, he was totally convinced that he should not launch such an invention without carrying out the necessary tests. Knowing that there were still things to be done, it was essential to perfect the invention. Niepce, on the other hand, had another point of view contrary to that of Daguerre, but he would not achieve any benefit in society, because death surprised Niepce at sixty-nine.

In the contract signed by Niepce and Daguerre it was established that, in case of death, his son Isidoro would inherit the participation in the company. However, although the agreement was made and the son retained an interest in photography, he did not really have the genius or inventiveness of his father and left the business quickly.

Daguerre continued to work tirelessly, obtaining improvements in their method, reducing the exposure time from twenty minutes to only ten minutes using bitumen instead of silver iodide. Thus, in 1837, he succeeded in carrying out his longed-for photographic procedure, which he called daguerreotype and its respective apparatus the daguerreotype. Its use did not take long to spread; in a year half a million daguerreotypes were made in Paris alone. Soon Louis began to market the first camera, which included a complete manual on the procedure.

Thanks to his remarkable success the French government decided to award him, instead of granting a certain amount to the participants of this invention (Daguerre and Isidoro, the son of Niepce), they would grant them a life annuity. This took place on June 15, 1839. One month later, King Louis Philippe signed the decree granting Daguerre 6000 annual francs and Niepce 4000; Upon his death, the widows would receive half of the pension.

Although the technique created by Louis was innovative, it had a difficulty corresponding to the effects on the health of the photographer, since the mercury vapors are toxic. In spite of all this, the daguerreotype was used massively by photographers because it offered a positive image with an extremely fine detail. Also, it was a tool that triggered the origin of the birth of itinerant photographers.

Prior to the Renaissance, perspective became more important, and the dark chambers became more sophisticated. Towards the end of the 18th century, more practical devices were created, some even adding a mirror to reflect the image on a piece of upper glass, which facilitated the tracing of images. The travelers carried small portable dark cameras to record their travels. We see that the daguerreotype was very important because it was one of the first techniques to obtain stable images and boost current photographic techniques.

Louis died on July 10, 1851, in Bry Sur Marne, France. The work of Daguerre was so important that his name is recorded in the list of 72 scientists of the Eiffel Tower, in Paris.

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