Canal Construction Scene
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American, about 1850
5 3/8 x 7 5/16 in.

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Workers with tools and wheelbarrows pause in the muddy foreground, while other men stand on scaffolding in the background.

Not all the daguerreotype portraits of Americans were of individual people. This scene--possibly a report of a work in progress--records one of the many massive engineering projects of the mid-1800s, probably the construction of a canal. The scale of the undertaking, and the difficulty of achieving the right light and focus in capturing so many people outdoors and over such a large area, parallels the project itself in its ambition.