The J. Paul Getty Museum

Portrait of a Father and Smiling Child

Object Details

Title:

Portrait of a Father and Smiling Child

Artist/Maker:

Unknown maker, American

Culture:

American

Date:

about 1855

Medium:

Daguerreotype

Object Number:

84.XT.1578.3

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Object Description

From the daguerreian era in the 1840s to the period of glass-plate negatives ending in the 1870s, photographic portraiture was characterized by stiffly posed, unsmiling faces. This study of a father and his smiling child is full of a spontaneity and emotion rarely captured in the 1850s.

Tell-tale scratches at every point where the decorative mat surrounds the image suggest that over time the daguerreotype has shifted back and forth within its mat, causing damage to the plate. For the modern viewer, the scratches are transformed into tiny starbursts that frame the lively pair.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
The Art of the Daguerreotype (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
Bibliography