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Untitled (Married Couple)

A work made of daguerreotype.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of daguerreotype.




Artist unknown
probably American, 19th century

About this artwork

The daguerreotype was invented in France in 1839 but gained its longest-lived popularity in America, where it was prized for its faithful detail and affordability. In the 1850s especially, millions of daguerreotypes were made by “operators” who rapidly learned the technique—involving copper plates coated in silver, each producing a unique image—to fulfill burgeoning demand for portraits. The seated elderly couple shown here holds a note identifying their ages and the occasion for the image, their 50th wedding anniversary: “70 years, 2 months, 20 days. / 68 years, 3 months, 21 days. / THANKS BE TO GOD: / Oct. 11th, 1802 Marriage Jubilee, Oct. 11th, 1852.” Lateral reversal through the camera lens caused all writing in daguerreotypes to appear backwards, while the fineness of the metal plate gave jewel-like precision and great tonal range to the images. These qualities prompted viewers to nickname the daguerreotype “mirror with a memory.”


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Photography and Media




Untitled (Married Couple)


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1852




Plate: 10.8 × 8.3 cm (4 5/16 × 3 5/16 in.); Case: 11.9 × 9.6 × 1.4 cm (4 11/16 × 3 13/16 × 9/16 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of The Estate of Carl A. and Helen Pelon Walvoord

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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