The Daguerreian Society 31st Annual Symposium & Conference
It's time to start planning for the 2019 Symposium and Conference, held at the Kansas City Marriott Country Club Plaza, in Kansas City, Missouri, hosted by the Nelson Atkins Museum. Come celebrate with us and enjoy four days of exception speakers, tours and events, our trade fair, silent & live auctions, and camaraderie and great food!
Date: OCTOBER 3-6, 2019
A special group rate of $169.00/night, including complimentary self-parking, is available to attendees 9/30 through 10/7.
Book your room on line here for the special group rate, or call 800-810-3708 and ask for The Daguerreian Society's special group rate.
The symposium registration form and exhibitor contract can be found here.
A detailed printed final agenda will be distributed to all attendees when they check in, or you can get the same handout in PDF here.
Wednesday and Thursday, October 2-3, 2019
The first events of the Symposium are several “behind the scene” tours at the Nelson-Atkins Museum on the afternoon of Wednesday, Oct. 2, and the morning of Thursday, Oct. 3. Although tour capacity is limited, the Nelson-Atkins is graciously hosting our Thursday evening reception from 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm, at which point you will be able to tour the exhibits freely.
Friday, October 4, 2019
The Symposium's talks will be held 9:00 am - 6:00 pm in the Nelson-Atkins auditorium. We have a stellar speaker venue -- see below for presentation and speaker information.
We have an exciting activity on Friday evening at the Marriott Country Club Plaza. Mike Medhurst, our President, and Nick Vacarro, dealer & collector, will exhibit highlights from their personal collections. This will be held in the Union Hill Room starting at 6:00 pm.
Saturday, October 5, 2019
This year our Trade Fair, held 9:00 am - 4:00 pm on Saturday, Oct. 5, will take on a little different twist: we are excited to announce a collaboration with Military Images magazine. We will have many Civil War dealers joining us at our trade show on Saturday, so be sure to make your way around all of the displays.
The cocktail party, banquet, and Benefit auction will be held from 6:30 pm - 11:00 pm.
Speakers and Presentations
Ariadna Romer: Girault de Prangey: The Puzzle of the Plates
The daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey present many aspects which have puzzled scholars from the time of their emergence into wider view. Their odd sizes, formats, multiple images on single plates, and the wide-ranging technical quality of the daguerreotypes have been attributed to their early date of production, before the process was refined and standardized. Research was conducted by Ariadna and Grant Romer into the potential working methods of Girault de Prangey in support of the exhibition Monumental Journey: The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey. Based upon analysis of physical characteristics of the plates and optical manifestations found in the imagery they undertook practical experiments in order to determine whether one or more cameras were employed, whether the daguerreotypes were made solely with iodine sensitizing, how and why multiple exposures were made on a single plate, and other practical aspects of his field work relating to exposure, processing, transport, and storage.
Ariadna Romer will present her conclusions and explain how these daguerreotypes were made and why they have unusual characteristics, all illustrative of Girault de Prangey’s extraordinary grasp, application, and mastery of the new medium of photography.
A graduate of the National School of Conservation, Restoration and Museography in Mexico City, Ariadna Romer has participated in many projects cataloguing cultural objects and recovering Mesoamerican materials. She holds a Master’s degree in Land Management and Regional Planning and was awarded a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in the European Archaeometry Centre granted by the Belgium government. For many years she served as a professor at the Conservation School in Mexico City and was in charge of the conservation of the photographic collection of the National Archaeology Department, doing general diagnostic and database creation of one of the most important collections for historical documentation of Mexican archaeology from the twentieth century.
With a long-term interest in the history of the application of photography to archaeology, the daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey prompted Ms. Romer to start a research project in 2007 that was presented to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the exhibition Monumental Journey: The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey. Currently, Ms. Romer is working to disseminate practical experience with the imaging technology of the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a scholar and consultant for international projects in Latin America and Europe. She currently serves as President of The Photographic Historical Society in Rochester, NY, and as a Fine Art Appraiser.
Carlos Vertanessian: Juan Manuel de Rosas: The Impossible Portrait
Juan Manuel de Rosas was a central figure in the formation of modern Argentina. He became Governor of the province of Buenos Aires in 1838, seeking the endorsements of both the rich and the poor in an attempt to achieve social cohesion, internal order, and stability in the country. Between 1838 and 1852 he became Argentina’s principal caudillo, unifying the 14 provinces of the Argentinean Confederation.
Rosas had an intuitive understanding of the relationship between “image” and “power,” and used his likeness as effective propaganda for his personal authority and the power of the state. He carefully controlled his public representations, promoting those he favored while censoring those he disliked. His image was reproduced in many iterations and media — painting, lithograph, and ceramics — and applied to countless official and quotidian objects. While there are over 120 surviving portraits of him, he sat for an artist only once, and he never consented to be photographed throughout his life.
In this talk, Vertanessian shares the research that led to his celebrated book, Juan Manuel de Rosas: El Retrato Imposible, and addresses Rosas’s remarkable invention of the cult to his persona and image. Rosas’s rejection of the truth of the photographic portrait relates not only to his preference for the grandiloquent likenesses artists could achieve, but also to unexpected and very personal reasons. Vertanessian’s research weaves the global history of photography with the national history in Argentina, and examines the relationship between the standardization of political iconography in European countries and the interpretation and appropriation of these images in Latin America. His multidisciplinary approach breaks new ground for iconographic studies.
Born in Argentina, Carlos G. Vertanessian earned an agronomical engineering degree at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and has been a member of The Daguerreian Society since the early 1990s. His lifetime passion for photography and imagery led him to develop a career in marketing, introducing holography to Argentina, and later spreading his business to cover promotional and cultural marketing. For over 35 years Carlos has been collecting early accounts of the origins of photography and daguerreotypes and other hard images taken in Argentina and Uruguay, and has recently become a part-time dealer in Latin American images. He has put together one of the largest specialized collections in Latin America. Over the last five years, he has been actively engaged in a personal crusade to spread the “daguerreian word” in his own country and to visit public and private collections elsewhere to better understand the daguerreian period and the way photography spread around the world. As a special tribute to Daguerre, he commissioned the creation of a limited-edition bronze bust of the “magician of light.” He takes special pleasure in researching and “reading” daguerreian-period images, and has published two books on early photography and visual culture in Argentina. His most recent book, Juan Manuel de Rosas: El retrato Imposible, released in December 2017, achieved the highest recognition: Argentina’s Ministry of National Culture and the Academy of Fine Arts both declared it of “national interest.” He believes collecting early photography should be about pleasure, knowledge, and sharing. Carlos has photographed Daguerreian Society events and as a member of the Website/Social Media Committee played a valuable role in promoting the Society’s mission worldwide.
Elliot Adrian Conte and Abigail Conte: A Survey of Early Photographic Headstones in Maine
A chance roadside encounter led to an entire fall spent scouring over three hundred 19th-century cemeteries across Maine in search of early photographic headstones. My wife and I made it our quest to track down every surviving example of this rare practice, and amongst hollow niches, empty ceramic frames, and shattered glass we found some amazing things. Daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, even tintypes and paper photos were discovered, but even the unfortunate destroyed and missing photographs left their telltale signs and told an interesting story about a relatively unexplored part of daguerreian history. Our talk will include photos and videos of our finds as well as period advertisements, patents, and other primary sources relating to the practice of placing photographs on headstones prior to 1900.
Elliot Conte is one of the youngest and most ardent lovers of daguerreotypes in the Society. He started collecting about 10 years ago in his early 20s with a keen eye for esthetic beauty. Over those 10 years he has built a collection of some of the strongest images available. A few years ago he moved to Maine and started investigating grave sites, looking for stones that still held daguerreotypes. This will be the basis of his talk.
Jane Aspinwall: Golden Prospects: Daguerreotypes of the California Gold Rush
Nelson-Atkins curator Jane L. Aspinwall discusses how the culmination of years of research on California gold rush daguerreotypes resulted in a new approach to the subject, providing the basis for the current exhibition and book. After creating a large image database of the most significant gold rush collections (both public and private), previously unrecognized patterns in this overall production were revealed. A careful analysis of these images provides fresh insight into the evolution of mining technology, geographic locations, and matters of stylistic attribution, as well as a deeper understanding of this pivotal episode in American history and of the daguerreotypists who ventured west.
Jane Aspinwall has worked with the Hallmark Photographic Collection since 1999 and was the first member of the Photography Department at the Nelson-Atkins after the Hallmark Collection was gifted in 2005. Previous to this appointment, she served as the curatorial assistant of Photography and worked in the American Art department of the Nelson-Atkins. Aspinwall received a master’s degree in 2001 in art history from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She also holds a master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in arts management received in 1992 from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Aspinwall was a contributor to the book and a co-organizer of the exhibition Developing Greatness: Origins of American Photography, 1839–1885, one of the inaugural exhibitions held in the museum’s Bloch Building in 2007. She was also co-author and exhibition co-curator of Timothy O’Sullivan: The King Survey Photographs. She has curated numerous exhibitions at the Nelson-Atkins, including: In the Public Eye: Photography and Fame; Restoration: Shana and Robert ParkeHarrison; Hide & Seek: Picturing Childhood (co-curated); Exploring Egypt: 19thCentury Expeditionary Photography; and Heavens: Photographs of the Sky & Cosmos.
Mike Robinson: Sterling McIntyre’s Five-Plate Panorama of San Francisco: Its History and Conservation
Mike Robinson’s talk tells the story of Sterling C. McIntyre’s five-plate daguerreotype
panorama of the City of San Francisco, currently on view in the Nelson-Atkins’s exhibition Golden Prospects: Daguerreotypes of the California Gold Rush. Robinson first examines the context of the panorama’s authorship, date, and provenance by referencing historic texts and extant daguerreotypes. He then describes in detail his recent restoration of the work, a complicated procedure incorporating a hybrid of traditional electro-chemical treatment and digital restoration.
Dr. Mike Robinson is an artist-practitioner, teacher, conservator, and historian of the daguerreotype. In June 2017 he earned his PhD in Photographic History with his dissertation entitled The Techniques and Material Aesthetics of the Daguerreotype. He has researched and written on the studio practice of Southworth & Hawes for the Young America exhibition catalogue and for The Daguerreian Annual. Mike taught graduate and undergraduate courses in 19th-Century Photographic Processes at Ryerson University in Toronto, and has lectured and taught daguerreotype workshops in Toronto; Rochester; New York City; Chicago; Lacock Abbey, United Kingdom; Bry-sur-Marne, France; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Kolomna, Russia.
Mike’s daguerreotypes are in the collections of The Portrait Gallery of Canada, The Art Gallery of Ontario, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Harvard University, The Carnegie-Mellon, The Snite Museum, The Fox Talbot Museum, The George Eastman House International Museum of Photography, Musée Metienne, The Russian Museum of Photography, and many private collections.
Rachel Wetzel: The Robert Cornelius Project: A Two-Year NEH Funded Connoisseurship Study of the Daguerreotypes of Robert Cornelius and His Contributions to the Early Photography Scene in Philadelphia
Robert Cornelius worked in the early experimental era of the daguerreotype in America,both contributing and employing all of the major improvements to Daguerre’s original formula. His plates were singly and multiply sensitized and they were both gilded and ungilded. Though he worked only for a few years, his body of work was prolific and represents a well-documented collection of daguerreotypes that can be studied today to understand how early, experimental plates age, both naturally and with interventions such as historic cleaning agents. From 2017–2019, a team of specialists including photograph conservators, curators, scientists, and a modern day daguerreotypist set out to design a database that would be used to collect all of the various attributes of Cornelius’s plates in order to better understand how these experimental daguerreotypes have changed since the time they were produced. This project was generously funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and was led by the author, Rachel K. Wetzel, who has traveled for the last two years examining and photographing all of the known Cornelius daguerreotypes. This talk will cover the findings and results of this research project that include the physical attributes that define a Cornelius daguerreotype and an examination of the long-term effects of cleaning agents on daguerreotype plates.
Rachel Wetzel is a conservator of photographic materials with an emphasis on 19th-century materials. She received a Masters of Arts with a Certificate of Conservation from (SUNY) Buffalo State College in 2003 and a post-graduate certificate for the completion of the Advanced Residency Program at the George Eastman Museum in 2007. Her current and former places of employment include the Library of Congress; the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts; the George Eastman Museum; and the private conservation studios of Heugh-Edmondson, LLC; and Paul Messier, LLC.
Michael Lehr: 9th-Plates: Big Images in Little Packages
Michael Lehr is an avid collector and dealer of 19th-century cased images. He has spent his entire life surrounded by some of the greatest images from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Your Visit to Kansas City
When planning your visit to Kansas City, keep in mind the wonderful local museums and places to visit:
- National WW1 Museum & Memorial
- Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
- Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
- Kansas City Zoo
- Arabia Steamboat Museum
- Kansas City Museum
- The Money Museum
- American Jazz Museum
As a teaser, here are some of the truly spectacular images you will see at the Nelson-Atkins Museum:
Unknown maker, American. Gold mining, North Fork, American River, ca. 1850–55. Daguerreotype, 5 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.112.
Unknown maker, American. Gold mining landscape, California, ca. 1855. Daguerreotype, 4 1/4 x 3 1/4 inches. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.113.
Unknown maker, American. Gold miner, ca. 1850. Daguerreotype, 4 1/4 × 3 1/4 inches. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.115.
Unknown maker, American. Gold miners, California, ca. 1850. Daguerreotype, 4 1/4 × 5 1/2 inches. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2011.37.34.