Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Eclipse of the Sun

Artist:
William Langenheim (American, born Germany, Schöningen 1807–1874)
Artist:
Frederick Langenheim (American, born Germany, Schöningen 1809–1879)
Date:
1854
Medium:
Daguerreotype
Dimensions:
From 3.2 x 2.5 cm (1 1/4 x 1 in.) to 7.2 x 5.9 cm (2 13/16 x 2 5/16 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.100.614a–g
Not on view
In 1841-42, William and Frederick Langenheim opened a daguerreotype studio in Philadelphia. Known for their technical innovations, the former journalists were not the city's first but were certainly its most celebrated photographers. On May 26, 1854, the Langenheim brothers made eight sequential photographs of the first total eclipse of the sun visible in North America since the invention of photography. Although six other daguerreotypists and one calotypist are known to have documented the event, only these seven daguerreotypes survive. In the northern hemisphere, the moon always shadows the sun from right to left during a solar eclipse; these images therefore seem odd because they are, like all uncorrected daguerreotypes, reversed laterally as in a mirror.

It is noteworthy that these daguerreotypes are quite small, three exceptionally so. In order to produce any kind of image at all, the Langenheims were forced to use the smallest cameras available, since smaller cameras require proportionally less light and there was virtually no available light when the disk of the new moon eclipsed the largest part of the sun. The missing eighth image was probably made on the smaller plate size and showed nothing at all-a total eclipse.
Langenheim family by descent; [Rinhart Gallery, by 1983]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, August 3, 1983

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," May 25, 1993–July 4, 1993.

Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," August 7, 1993–October 2, 1993.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," June 19, 1994–September 11, 1994.

National Gallery of Canada. "Beauty of Another Order: Photography in Science," October 17, 1997–January 4, 1998.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Beyond the Edges: An Insider's Look at Early Photographs," October 9, 1998–February 14, 1999.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. "Cosmos: From Romanticism to the Avant-Garde," June 17, 1999–October 17, 1999.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. "Cosmos: From Romanticism to the Avant-Garde: 1801–2001," June 17, 1999–October 17, 1999.

Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona. "Cosmos: From Romanticism to the Avant-Garde," November 23, 1999–February 20, 2000.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "As It Happened: Photographs from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," May 7, 2002–August 25, 2002.

Apraxine, Pierre. Photographs from the Collection of the Gilman Paper Company. Reeds Springs, Mo.: White Oak Press, 1985. no. 81.

Hambourg, Maria Morris, Pierre Apraxine, Malcolm Daniel, Virginia Heckert, and Jeff L. Rosenheim. The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. p. 310.



Original series consisted of 8 daguerreotypes.
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