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© Mike Robinson's Century Darkroom

Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Title: [Portrait of a nun]
Date: 1850s
Medium: Daguerreotype
Dimensions: Image (half plate): 4 5/8 × 4 1/2 in. (11.8 × 11.4 cm) Overall/Frame: 11 3/4 x 10 in. (29.8 x 25.4 cm)
Credit Line: Gift, by exchange, of Arthur Penn, Class of 1956, and Marilyn Penn; Christopher Elliman; David Elliman; and Andrea Branch
Object Number: 95.015.002
Label Text: Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre announced to the world in 1839 that it was possible to capture and fix an image on a silver-coated, polished, copper plate. After sensitizing the plate and exposing it to the subject for three to thirty minutes, the image was fixed by washing in pure distilled water. Daguerreotypes were made in several specific sizes and were immediately encased under glass, usually in a folding frame made of wood with a thin leather coating or an early form of thermoplastic. Just ten years later, more than 100,000 daguerreotypes were made in Paris alone, most of them portraits. One of the earliest practitioners of this new art was Philibert Perraud, born in 1815 in Macon, France. Very little is known about the artist's early years, except that he was a cook before he learned the daguerreotype process. Perraud ran a successful and well-known studio in Paris before going to Italy around 1845. In a diary entry in 1847, Perraud mentions having arrived in Athens. Shortly after arriving, he met Philippos Margaritis (1810-1892), a Turkish-born artist who was teaching drawing at the art school in Athens. Perraud taught Margaritis the art of daguerreotypy and the two collaborated on a collection of daguerreotype images of the antiquities in Athens. Perraud was back in Lyons by the early 1850s. This portrait of a nun from the 1850s could have been made anywhere during Perraud's travels, but the address inscribed on the reverse might have been in Lyons. (From “A Handbook of the Collection: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art," 1998)

Image © Mike Robinson's Century Darkroom

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.