Scientist in his Laboratory thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C , Case DAG, Shelf 13

Scientist in his Laboratory

Daguerreotype
1851 (Photographed)
Artist/Maker

John Benjamin Dancer made scientific and optical instruments professionally, and was also an inventor with a strong interest in photography. Experimenting with photographic media, he wrote that 'the accounts given of the beautiful pictures [daguerreotypes] induced me to abandon the photographic paper process'. This hand-painted daguerreotype was made for friends, probably to showcase his achievements. The sitter, posing as a scientist, is shown making a pair of daguerreotypes. He is surrounded by some of Dancer's inventions and other scientific instruments.

The daguerreotype process was introduced to the public in 1839 by Frenchman Louis Daguerre, and was hugely popular as a medium for portraiture until the middle of the 1850s. To create a daguerreotype, a silver plated sheet was given a light sensitive surface coating of iodine vapour. After a long exposure in the camera, the image was developed over heated mercury and fixed in a common salt solution. The image lies on a mirror-like surface and is best seen from an angle to minimise reflections.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Daguerreotype stereograph
Brief Description
'Scientist in his Laboratory, 1851, daguerreotype stereograph by John Benjamin Dancer (born London 1812, died Manchester 1887)
Physical Description
Daguerreotype of a man sitting in a laboratory making a pair of daguerreotyps.
Dimensions
  • Width: 175mm
Marks and Inscriptions
'CARPENTER / & / WESTLEY / OPTICIANS / 24 REGENT ST / LONDON' (Sticker on back)
Gallery Label
Gallery 100 ‘A History of Photography’, 2014-2015, label text: John Benjamin Dancer (1812–87) Scientist in his Laboratory 1851 John Benjamin Dancer was an inventor with an interest in photography. In this staged scene, the man is surrounded by technical instruments, including some of Dancer’s own inventions. Among the objects on the table is a stereoscopic viewer of the type used to see this daguerreotype in three dimensions. The figure is shown as part scientist and part alchemist, much as photographers were viewed at the time. Hand tinted daguerreotype stereograph Museum no. Ph.243-1979 (06 03 2014)
Credit line
Purchased 1979
Summary
John Benjamin Dancer made scientific and optical instruments professionally, and was also an inventor with a strong interest in photography. Experimenting with photographic media, he wrote that 'the accounts given of the beautiful pictures [daguerreotypes] induced me to abandon the photographic paper process'. This hand-painted daguerreotype was made for friends, probably to showcase his achievements. The sitter, posing as a scientist, is shown making a pair of daguerreotypes. He is surrounded by some of Dancer's inventions and other scientific instruments.



The daguerreotype process was introduced to the public in 1839 by Frenchman Louis Daguerre, and was hugely popular as a medium for portraiture until the middle of the 1850s. To create a daguerreotype, a silver plated sheet was given a light sensitive surface coating of iodine vapour. After a long exposure in the camera, the image was developed over heated mercury and fixed in a common salt solution. The image lies on a mirror-like surface and is best seen from an angle to minimise reflections.
Collection
Accession Number
PH.243-1979

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record createdNovember 28, 2005
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