Family Ties: Daguerreotype Portraits

July 1, 2022 – June 11, 2023
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National Portrait Gallery
8th and G Streets, NW
Washington, DC

Within a decade of its introduction in 1839, the daguerreotype—the first commercially viable form of photography—emerged as a highly popular means of documenting family relationships. Affordable pricing fueled the popularity of the daguerreotype and technical innovations made it possible to produce successful images of multiple sitters. This paved the way for the boom in family portraiture. The portraits in this exhibition reflect the range of familial relationships documented by the camera during the daguerreian era. While they include nuclear family groups, they also speak to other meaningful family bonds— those shared by a young brother and sister; an aunt and a beloved niece; a young man and his father-in-law; a caring uncle and his nieces and nephews; and long-married couples.