In 1839, the daguerreotype was introduced to the world. By exposing a polished silver plate to chemicals, the surface could become sensitive to light, allowing for the capturing of images. Portraits had always been popular among Europeans, so the development of an even more precise process became wildly popular. It resulted in a rather widespread and creepy practice of post-mortem photography. We won’t focus on that trend here.
One of the big limitations of early photography was the need for strong sunlight for the image to be captured. To solve this problem, Victorian women used their creative and artistic talents to tweak existing photographs to fit into situations they found more enjoyable. The result? Victorian photo-collages. Basically, people liked to put faces on stuff, and it usually resulted in something between funny and odd.
The following images were published in the New York Times in 2010 to promote an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum, which I had the privilege of visiting. Here are a few of my favorites from the Times‘ article.