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Parliament Street from Trafalgar Square

  • Object:

    Daguerreotype

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1839 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    de Ste Croix, M. (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Daguerreotype

  • Museum number:

    PH.1-1986

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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.

Physical description

Whitehall From Trafalgar Square, daguerreotype.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

1839 (made)

Artist/maker

de Ste Croix, M. (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Daguerreotype

Dimensions

Height: 13.3 cm, Width: 17.2 cm

Descriptive line

Whitehall From Trafalgar Square, daguerreotype by M. De Ste.Croix, London, Britain, 1839.

Labels and date

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]

Subjects depicted

Parliament Street

Categories

Photographs; Access to Images; Images Online

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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