- The man responsible for "permanent photography" was Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre (1789-1851), born in Cormeilles-en-Parisis, Seine-et- Oise, France. An artist and a pioneer in photography, Daguerre began his adult life in Paris as a theatrical scenery painter. In 1822, he established the Diorama, a theatrical spectacle that exhibited large panoramic paintings on a transparent canvas illuminated on both sides. The Diorama was housed in a circular building with a revolving floor, enabling spectators to stand at one spot and see everything. The Diorama in Paris was so successful that another was built in Regent's Square in London. The newer one was destroyed by fire in 1839, the year the daguerreotype came into general use.Daguerre's idee fixe had been to invent a permanent photographic image. He devoted so much of his time experimenting that his wife, complaining of "malodorous vapors" to no avail, wondered whether he was losing his mind. She had one of his colleagues look in on him. After visiting the workroom, the colleague assured her that her fears were unfounded. Daguerre became friendly with Joseph Niepce, a Frenchman engaged in a similar photographic process and whose photograph was the first to become permanently fixed, made from sunlight using either glass or paper plates. Daguerre and Niepce became working partners until Niepce's death in 1833. In 1839 Daguerre discovered a proper formula for making a permanent picture, his daguerreotype process—an impression made on a light-sensitive, silver-coated metallic plate treated with iodine vapor. Exposure time was reduced from about eight hours to fifteen minutes.Daguerre's fame was meteoric; he received international acclaim. The halls in which Daguerre's invention was exhibited could not accommodate the crowds. People throughout the world were spellbound. Daguerre was honored by the French Legion of Honor and, after selling his invention to the French government, received, together with Niepce's heirs, a pension for life.The daguerreotype had a major fault: it could not be reproduced. This photographic process was gradually replaced by one invented by an Englishman, W. H. Fox Talbot, whose calotype process enabled a print to be replicated many times from just one negative.How fleeting is fame based on technological improvement! In 1851 the wet-plate process, which also produced multiple images, but with sharper detail, was invented by another Englishman, Frederick Scott Archer, and it superseded the daguerreotype in the photographic field.
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.