Frederick Langenheim

Photography Studio W. & F. Langenheim American
William Langenheim American, born Germany
Frederick Langenheim American, born Germany

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. The brothers pioneered a technique of hand-coloring daguerreotypes (1846), purchased Henry Talbot's United States patent for paper photography (1849), invented a system of making negatives and positives on glass (1848-50), and introduced stereoscopic photography to the American public (1850).
This mammoth plate daguerreotype is one of the very few to have survived. It served perhaps to advertise or promote the firm, a convincing example of the Langenheims' professional mastery. The stylistic simplicity--the use of a black backdrop and the absence of accessories--focuses the viewer's attention on the sitter's somber yet amiable expression, and the slight turning away of the sitter's face from his own camera reveals a shyness that belies the self-admiration often implicit in self-portraiture.

Frederick Langenheim, W. & F. Langenheim (American, active 1843–1874), Daguerreotype

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