Parliament Street from Trafalgar Square

Daguerreotype
1839 (made)
Parliament Street from Trafalgar Square thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Prints & Drawings Study Room, room 512M
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This is the oldest photograph in the Museum’s collection. It is a daguerreotype, a unique image formed on a silvered copper plate. The daguerreotype was the first photographic process, publicised in January 1839. It was named after its inventor, Louis Daguerre. Just a few weeks after the French Government revealed the secrets of daguerreotypy in Paris in August 1839, Monsieur de St Croix organized the first public demonstration of the process in London. This is therefore among the very first photographs taken in London. The scene is reversed – as is characteristic of the process – and the image on the shiny surface is difficult to read. However, once caught at the correct angle, amazing detail emerges. In the foreground there is a statue of Charles I and in the distance the royal Banqueting House. There are also traces of the people who stayed still long enough to register on the exposure, which probably lasted some minutes.
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object details
Categories
Object Type
Brief Description
Whitehall From Trafalgar Square, daguerreotype by M. De Ste.Croix, London, Britain, 1839.
Physical Description
Whitehall From Trafalgar Square, daguerreotype.
Dimensions
  • Height: 20.6cm
  • Width: 16.4cm
Gallery Label
Gallery 100, ‘History of photography’, 2011-2012, label text : Attributed to M. de Ste Croix (dates unknown, active 1839) Parliament Street from Trafalgar Square 1839 This daguerreotype is the oldest photograph in the V&A collection and among the first made in England. It was taken by a Monsieur de Ste Croix as a public demonstration just weeks after Louis Daguerre’s announcement of photography. The incredibly detailed image shows the statue of King Charles I in the foreground and the Royal Banqueting House in the distance. Daguerreotype Museum no. Ph.1-1986 (07 03 2014)
Place Depicted
Summary
This is the oldest photograph in the Museum’s collection. It is a daguerreotype, a unique image formed on a silvered copper plate. The daguerreotype was the first photographic process, publicised in January 1839. It was named after its inventor, Louis Daguerre. Just a few weeks after the French Government revealed the secrets of daguerreotypy in Paris in August 1839, Monsieur de St Croix organized the first public demonstration of the process in London. This is therefore among the very first photographs taken in London. The scene is reversed – as is characteristic of the process – and the image on the shiny surface is difficult to read. However, once caught at the correct angle, amazing detail emerges. In the foreground there is a statue of Charles I and in the distance the royal Banqueting House. There are also traces of the people who stayed still long enough to register on the exposure, which probably lasted some minutes.
Collection
Accession Number
PH.1-1986

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record createdNovember 4, 2002
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