This monument pays tribute to French Artist and inventor Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851), who revolutionized picture-making in 1839 by introducing the first practical form of photography to the world. Known as the daguerreotype, Daguerre's process used chemically sensitized plates of silver-clad copper to produce unique, direct-positive images that won international acclaim for their extraordinary clarity and detail.
In 1889 the Photographers' Association of America commissioned sculptor Jonathan Scott Hartley to create this work to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Daguerre's achievement. Hartley's design features a likeness of Daguerre based on an original 1848 daguerreotype by American photographer Charles R. Meade (1826-1858) of Meade Brothers Studio. The Sculpture includes the kneeling figure of fame, who frames Daguerre's head with a laurel wreath fashioned from the garland that encircles the globe—a symbol of the international impact of Daguerre's invention. Upon its completion in 1890, the Daguerre Monument was presented to the Smithsonian. It was placed in its current location in 1989, with sponsorship of the Professional Photographers of America, to mark the 150th anniversary of photography.
Jonathan Scott Hartley (1845-1912)
Bronze and granite, cast in 1890 by Henry-Bonnard Bronze Company
Lent to the National Portrait Gallery by the National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Conservation of the Daguerre Monument in 2014 was made possible with federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund, administered by the National Collections Program and the Smithsonian Advisory Committee.