Unaware that Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, the inventor of the daguerreotype, vehemently disliked having his own portrait made, Charles Richard Meade traveled to Europe in 1848 to make a photograph that would show American audiences what Daguerre looked like. Daguerre politely refused Meade's request but invited him to stay for a visit at his home in Bry-sur-Marne, France. Through the coaxing of either Madame Daguerre or Daguerre's niece, Meade secured the sitting. Daguerre's reticence, however, is apparent; he looks a bit uneasy and anxious for the whole ordeal to be over.
During that visit Meade made five portraits of Daguerre, which he later exhibited in the galleries that were part of the Meade Studios in New York. They attracted a great deal of attention from Americans, who had enthusiastically embraced the daguerreotype soon after its invention early in 1839. Because daguerreotypes were unique objects, Meade made daguerreotype copies of the portraits that he judged to be popular with the art-buying public.