Curator‘s Comments

The photographic process of the daguerreotype—which produces a unique image on a plate of highly polished metal—was invented in France by L. J. M. Daguerre in consultation with a rival early photographic inventor, Joseph Niépce. After finally perfecting their technique in 1839, Daguerre and Niépce’s son, Isidore, received a lifetime pension from the French government in exchange for making their revolutionary formula available to a wider public. Shortly after the release of the discovery, amateur daguerreotypists began setting up shops to make portraits using the new process.
The Boston firm Southworth and Hawes (1843–1861) was one of the most distinguished American daguerreotype studios, producing images that straddle the line between accurate documents of likeness and artistically rendered portraits.

Southworth and Hawes. Established Boston, Massachusetts 1843 – dissolved 1861

Family Portrait: Parents with Their Three Children, c. 1850

Full plate daguerreotype

Purchased with the gift of Mrs. Myron Rothchild (Carol Weil, class of 1933) and the Kathleen Compton Sherrerd, class of 1954, Fund for American Art

ID Number: SC 2000:10