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Landscapes

Talk no more of 'holding the mirror up to nature'—she will hold it up to herself, and present you with a copy of her countenance for a penny.… All nature shall paint herself—fields, rivers, trees, houses, plains, mountains, cities, shall all paint themselves at a bidding, and at a few moments's notice. Towns will no longer have any representatives but themselves. Invention says it. Here is a revolution in art.
 
 

—" New Discovery in the Fine Arts," The New Yorker, April 13, 1839

Seneca Falls (upstream) St. Anthony Falls Seneca Falls (downstream)

The daguerreotype fit perfectly into the world as seen by the American romantics, particularly into arresting questions focused on the usefulness of American landscape for the purposes of art. In the years before the Civil War, American daguerreotypists pictured an ordinary landscape of prosperous towns and farms, creating a new national landscape acclaimed for raw and bustling vitality rather than any lack of European castles and cathedrals. Joined to the era of invention, the introduction of the daguerreotypist also coincided with a turbulent and expansive period in the United States. Through such a medium as the daguerreotype, new territories could be captured and technology itself could offset the loss of the wilderness to change.

Merry A. Foresta, Secrets of the Dark Chamber

Daguerreotypes help to forge (1:19) Audio
Find out how daguerreotypes went alongside pioneers as they forged westward.


 

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