A Museum Exhibition Collects the Best Images From America’s First Great Photography Studio
Photography exhibitions in museums often have a superfluous air. The pictures may be beautiful, but you could probably see them just as well or better in a magazine or book. Not so with daguerreotypes. The images they contain can be photographed and reproduced, but the mirrored surface, illusion of depth, and striking clarity of a well-made daguerreotype can be experienced only in the original.
One of America’s most skilled and prolific daguerreotype studios was Southworth & Hawes, of Boston. Between 1843 and 1863 it brought artistry to what had been seen as mainly a technical proc-ess, creating images of famous and ordinary Bostonians, along with buildings, shipyards, cemeteries, natural scenery, and even the first surgical operation using ether. Now more than 150 of the firm’s finest daguerreotypes have been assembled in