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Untitled (Niagara Falls)

A work made of daguerreotype.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of daguerreotype.


c. 1853


Attributed to Platt D. Babbitt
American, died 1879

About this artwork

Niagara Falls, like other popular tourist destinations in the 19th century, was once only accessible through travel. With the invention and proliferation of photography after 1839, however, visitors could take home the scenes they saw. To create a daguerreotype—a small picture on silver-plated copper, nicknamed a “mirror with a memory”—a photographer painstakingly polished the plate, sensitized it in a bath of chemicals, and exposed it to light for a few seconds to several minutes. The resulting image was an irreproducible original with an unrivaled degree of sharpness. Tourists visiting Niagara Falls would have bought souvenir images like this one, which was likely made by the popular daguerreotypist Platt D. Babbitt, who sold his plates from a pavilion at Prospect Point. In order to maintain his monopoly, Babbitt supposedly thwarted the efforts of his rivals by waving umbrellas in front of the falls when they tried to make exposures.


Currently Off View


Photography and Media


Platt D. Babbitt


Untitled (Niagara Falls)


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 1848–1858




13.4 × 18.6 cm (5 5/16 × 7 3/8 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of the Blum-Kovler Foundation

Reference Number


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