In Living Color: The Art of the Hand Painted Daguerreotype

I’ve just returned from a trip to London and am left feeling as though one could spend a lifetime there and not see all of the treasures that the city has to offer. We had ten days to try our best. One of my favorite experiences was visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum and viewing their collection of painted portrait miniatures. From the V&A website:

Miniature painting was a unique art form, with artists such as Nicholas Hilliard, Samuel Cooper and John Smart specialising in its demanding techniques. Miniature portraits were painted to be held and viewed closely, to be presented as tokens of loyalty, friendship or love and were often invested with great significance, politically and personally. From the sixteenth century until the advent of photography in the mid-nineteenth century no other portrait art was so intimately bound up with people's lives.

The popularity of the miniature painted portrait was superseded by the first commercially available photograph, the daguerreotype. Because the daguerreotype process lacked the ability to reproduce color, many were hand painted, often using similar techniques and materials to those used in miniature portrait painting. The V&A collection includes some of the finest examples of hand colored daguerreotypes in existence. 

By William Edward Kilburn, 1851. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

By William Edward Kilburn, circa 1850. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Paul Emile Chappuis, circa 1850. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Explore the V&A collection here:

To read more about hand colored daguerreotpyes, check out my article In Living Color: Process and Materials of the Hand Colored Daguerreotype published in the The Daguerreian Annual 2008