This first photographic process invented by Louis Daguerre (1787-1851) spread rapidly around the world after its presentation to the public in Paris in 1839. Exposed in a camera obscura and developed in mercury vapors, each highly polished silvered copper plate is a unique photograph that, viewed in proper light, exhibits extraordinary detail and three-dimensionality. The Boston partnership of Southworth and Hawes produced the finest portrait daguerreotypes in America for leading political, intellectual, and artistic figures. They also catered to a wealthy local clientele including the shipbuilder Donald McKay (1810-1880). A native of Nova Scotia, McKay learned the business in New York before settling in Boston and establishing his own shipyard. An imposing and slightly intimidating subject, McKay wears the elegant expensive attire of a gentleman with a thriving business. In addition to making this portrait, Southworth and Hawes made views of McKay's shipyard and several of the vessels constructed there, including the famed Champion of the Seas. At the time of its launch in 1854, it was the largest sailing vessel in the world and, for a time, it is said to have been the home of this striking portrait.