The Daguerre Monument

The Daguerre Monument

Editorial comments on this plate:

from issue dated September 5, 1890:

Prof. T. W. Smillie, of the Smithsonian Institution, has made an excellent photograph of the Daguerre Memorial as it stands under the dome of the National Museum in a finished state. The negative is an entirely satisfactory one. It is now being reproduced in photo-gravure and will be presented to the readers of this magazine in the next issue. Any one sending one dollar, or more, to the fund for payment of the monument will receive this copy of the Photographic Times free, or a separate impression of the photo-gravure suitable for framing.

from issue dated September 12, 1890:

The Daguerre Memorial.

We present our readers, this week, with the promised photo-gravure of Mr. J. Scott Hartley’s monument to Daguerre. The negative was made by Professor T. W. Smillie, the National Museum photographer, at the Smithsonian Institution, and as all our readers can see, it is an excellent one in every respect. It gives an entirely satisfactory representation of the monument, and the photogravure has reproduced it in the best manner. Altogether, this picture makes a fitting souvenir for all interested in the Memorial—which should mean, and probably does, all who are interested in photography.
There yet remains something over a thousand dollars to be raised to fully pay for the monument. That nearly $5,000 has been contributed within the year, is a cause for congratulation to American photographers. The few hundred dollars yet due will undoubtedly be collected in a few months. Let us make a last effort to complete the fund without delay!

The following letter, received by Mr. McMichael, Chairman of the Daguerre Committee, from a well-known firm, is significant as showing the state of feeling since the unveiling of the monument at Washington:


Philadelphia, August 28, 1890.
Mr. H. McMichael,
Dear Sir: We have the pleasure to inclose herewith our check No. 9,435 on the Bank of North America for $100, which we will ask you to kindly place to the credit of the Daguerre Monument Fund.
It affords us pleasure to avail ourselves of this opportunity to compliment you and your colleagues on the Committee for the artistic results of your thoughtful and arduous work. We are, with kind regards,
Yours very truly,
 Edward Cope, Vice-President.


The following extract from the British Journal of Photography shows how the movement is regarded in England:
“It says very much for the pluck and enterprise of American photographers that they determined to make a monument to Daguerre that would keep his name—as one of the great initial forces in photography—ever fresh before the citizens of the New World. After selecting a design, the cost of executing which was to be somewhere about six thousand dollars, subscriptions were appealed for, and, to the honor of the country, came in rapidly. The memorial was meanwhile being proceeded with.
“The locale of the Daguerre monument is in Washington, D. C, in which lordly city the Photographers’ Convention has this year been held, under the presidency of Mr. J. M. Appleton. No time was lost in having all in readiness for the Convention, and one day was set aside to be exclusively devoted to giving honor to the illustrious Frenchman. Indeed, the unveiling of the monument thus prepared seems to have been considered as the great event of the Convention. The work (granite and bronze) was designed and modeled by the sculptor, Mr. J. Scott Hartley, New York. It stands sixteen feet high, and is placed in the Rotunda of the National Museum.
“That everything was carried out successfully, the following cablegram from Mr. J. M. Appleton, the President of the Convention, attests:

“‘ Daguerre unveiled; grand success.  Association sends greetings.
‘Appleton, President.’

“We have here merely to say that we admire the pluck displayed by our American brothers in doing that which ought lo have been done long ere now in Europe.”

The London Amateur Photographer, stimulated into activity by the example of its American contemporaries, is promoting a movement to repair the tomb of Daguerre, which is rapidly falling into decay for the want of a small sum. Subscriptions amounting to ten dollars or so have already been received and acknowledged. Our enterprising confrere “on the other side” will acknowledge all subscriptions, in a special column, sent to that paper for this purpose. We shall be glad to forward any contributions sent to us to swell this fund, after acknowledging them in our own columns.
Subscriptions to our own Daguerre Memorial may be sent direct to Chairman McMichael, of the general committee, at Buffalo, N. Y., or to this office, as may be most convenient.

As an added inducement, we shall be glad to send a copy of this number containing the photogravure of the Memorial; or a separate impression of the photo-gravure, suitable for framing; to any one contributing a dollar or more to this fund. Of course, all contributions sent to us will be acknowledged in these columns. This is the last call. Send on your contributions before it is too late, and thus be numbered with the other photographers who are recorded as honoring the memory of a founder of their art.

A Further Appeal


Later in the fall of 1890, the appeal on behalf of The Photographic Times to finish paying off the Daguerre Memorial debt obligation continued by drawing attention to the gravure itself, which would be sent to anyone with a contribution of $1.00 or more to the fund. From the issue dated October 31, 1890:


We wish to call the attention of our readers once more to the very satisfactory photo-gravure of the Daguerre Memorial which appeared in The Photographic Times of September 12th. It was from a negative by Professor T. W. Smillie, of the Smithsonian Institution, and has been received with evidences of high favor on every hand. Especially have the photographic magazines, both of this country and abroad, and the public press, commended this photo-gravure. We have space for but a few brief quotations.

The San Francisco Call of October 5th, under its ” Literary Notes,” characterizes the photo-gravure as “a gem of the photographic art,” while The New York Daily News of Thursday, October 9th. calls it “a magnificent photogravure of the Daguerre Memorial. As a specimen of photo-gravure work it is a magnificent success.”

The Photographic Art Journal (London) of October 1 designates our frontispiece as a “really good photo-gravure reproduction of Mr. Scott Hartley’s monument to Daguerre. The print which is made from Professor Smillie’s negative is a fine one and will, we believe, be long preserved by those who feel an interest in the movement which seeks thus to perpetuate in a fitting manner the memory of the great father of photography.”

The Amateur Photographer speaks of the illustration as a “remarkably good photo-gravure, showing a much more dignified example of sculpture than the artist’s sketches seemed to promise to some of our contemporaries who mistook the rough outline for the finished sketch. American photographers have no reason to feel ashamed of the memorial to the clever Frenchman.” And the same magazine, of October 3, that “judging from the picture before us, the work is admirably done and reflects the greatest credit on the designer and sculptor.”

We call the attention of our readers to this photo-gravure again, because we would remind them of the offer which we made at the time of its publication. We will gladly send a copy of the Times containing the illustration, or the unbound photo-gravure, to any one sending us a dollar or more for the Memorial Fund. Only about twelve hundred dollars remains to be raised; but we must not cease our efforts until the entire amount has been collected.
Cheques for larger amounts may be drawn to the order of H. McMichael, Chairman of the General Committee, and sent direct to him at 246 Main Street, Buffalo, N. Y., or they may be sent to this office, where they will be promptly acknowledged in The Photographic Times, and forwarded to the Chairman of the Committee.

Original copy for this entry posted to Facebook on August 5, 2012:

1889 marked the 50th anniversary of Frenchman Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre’s invention of the Daguerreotype, with the achievement commemorated in the United States by the sponsorship from the Photographers’ Association of America for a bronze memorial monument. At the time, the considerable cost- $6,000.00- was eventually raised through appeal from amateurs and professionals all over the country, in sums of as little as $1.00, principally through the pages of the Photographic Times. Noted American sculptor Jonathan Scott Hartley (1845-1912) was commissioned the work and completed it for official dedication in the rotunda of the National Museum (now the Arts and Industries building) in Washington, D.C. at the PAA’s 11th annual convention on Friday, August 15, 1890. Rededicated on the 150th anniversary in 1989, the monument can be seen today outside the National Portrait Gallery.

The Daguerre Monument

Image Dimensions20.8 x 13.7 cm | published September 12, 1890 | issue No. 469

Support Dimensions28.7 x 20.5 cm