The J. Paul Getty Museum

La Daguerreotypomanie (Daguerreotypomania)

Object Details


La Daguerreotypomanie (Daguerreotypomania)


Théodore Maurisset (French, active 1834 - 1859)




Paris, France (Place Created)


December 1839



Object Number:



26 × 35.7 cm (10 1/4 × 14 1/16 in.)

Credit Line:

Gift of Samuel J. Wagstaff, Jr.

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Object Description

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre began investigating the possibilities of copying an image from nature using sunlight and chemicals in the early 1820s and entered into a partnership in 1829 with Nicéphore Niépce, who was also experimenting with similar concepts. Daguerre made the first successful daguerreotype in 1837, four years after Niépce's death. In the summer of 1839 the French government agreed to pay Daguerre along with Niépce's son a pension for their lifetimes in exchange for patent rights to the daguerreotype process and then immediately transferred the rights into the public domain. Once the secret procedures and chemical formulas were made known, the need for users to pay royalties or license fees to Daguerre was eliminated, causing a great rush by opportunity seekers. The situation was very different across the Channel, where licensing fees still had to be paid to William Henry Fox Talbot for the right to use his processes. Similarly, in order to use Daguerre's process in England, a licensing fee had to be paid to entrepreneur Richard Beard, who had the sole patent rights for daguerreotypes in England, Wales, and the British colonies. (84.XT.266.14)

Théodore Maurisset's lithograph playfully presents a time when vast crowds would line up to have their likenesses made. It chronicles the many ways entrepreneurs hoped to cash in on the craze, from selling supplies and equipment to giving lessons on how to make a daguerreotype.

Maurisset imagines a world dominated by photography and where even time, in the form of a camera-like clock, is measured by it. Notice the engravers to the right of center who are committing suicide because their jobs have been taken away by the advent of the camera. In a comically exaggerated way, Maurisset was expressing the fears of artists about a discovery many believed posed a threat to their profession.
Adapted from Weston Naef, The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Photographs Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995), 32. © 1995 The J. Paul Getty Museum.

1982 -
1984 -

Samuel Wagstaff, Jr., American, 1921 - 1987, GIFT

Experimental Photography: Discovery and Invention (January 17 to April 2, 1989)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), January 17 to April 2, 1989
Arrows of Time: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 24 to April 2, 1995)
  • Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at UCLA (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 2, 1995
The Making of a Daguerreotype: Images and Artifacts (April 14 to July 12, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), April 14 to July 12, 1998
In Focus: Daguerreotypes (November 3, 2015 to March 20, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 3, 2015 to March 20, 2016