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The Daguerreotype and the 1851 Great Exhibition by Anthony Hamber

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The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations took place in the purpose-built Crystal Palace in London’s Hyde Park between May and October 1851 and received some six million visitors. The official report stated that “never before was so rich a collection of photographic pictures brought together.” Daguerreotypes gained the best reviews and American Daguerreotypes stole the show. This talk surveys the role of the Daguerreotype at the Great Exhibition, including the Daguerreotypes and Daguerreotype equipment exhibited, the Daguerreotypes taken of the Exhibition and its contents, and finally the exploitation of the Daguerreotype to aid the production of illustrations for a wide range of contemporary publications. Anthony Hamber is an independent photographic historian and was awarded his Ph.D. from the University of London for his study on the photography of the fine arts in England 1839 to 1880. This was published in an extended version by Gordon and Breach in 1996 as “A Higher Branch of the Art”; Photographing the Fine Arts in England 1839-1880 and became the subject of an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He has been researching, publishing, and teaching on the history of early photography and the 1851 Great Exhibition for more than two decades. His book Photography and the 1851 Great Exhibition was published by Oak Knoll Press and V & A Publications in 2018 in conjunction with the opening the Photography Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum. A member of Advisory Board of the Talbot Catalogue Raisonné project based at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, Anthony is an expert on 19th century photographically illustrated publications and has been building an annotated international bibliography for many years, with the aim of future online publication. Presented on August 1, 2020.

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