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Fireman

A work made of daguerreotype.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of daguerreotype.

Date:

1850/60

Artist:

Photographer unknown
American, 19th century

About this artwork

Inexpensive and astonishingly sharp, daguerreotypes were the most popular portrait form of the 1840s and 1850s. One subset of American daguerreotypes, so-called occupationals, showed workers posing with tools of their trade. These images celebrated American craft and labor, their subjects personifying traits like innovation, industriousness, and courage. This daguerreotype reveals that its sitter understood, and accommodated, the daguerreotype process, which reverses the image. To have his unit number read (almost) correctly, the fireman obligingly posed with his belt upside-down, sacrificing the N to get the O and E in the right place. Even in photography’s infancy, people knew how to pose for the camera; from this moment on, self-presentation would be mediated through its lens.

Currently Off View

Photography

Artist

Unknown artist

Title

Fireman

Origin

United States

Date

Made 1850–1860

Medium

Daguerreotype

Dimensions

8.8 × 6.7 cm (plate, sight); 12 × 9.4 × 1 cm (case)

Credit Line

Restricted gift of Eric Ceputis and David Williams in honor of Liz Siegel

Reference Number

2017.155

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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