New rotation will feature one of the oldest photographs in the museum’s collection
Rochester, N.Y., October 18, 2016—The George Eastman Museum will open a new rotation in its History of Photography Gallery on October 29. This installation, curated by Heather Shannon, assistant curator in the Department of Photography, provides an overview of the history of photography through photographs made in Mexico by artists, photojournalists, and archaeologists, as well as unidentified tourists and studio photographers from Europe, the United States, and Mexico. The installation begins with a daguerreotype that dates to 1839, the year the invention of photography was announced, and ends with a triptych from contemporary Mexican artist Alejandro Cartagena’s critically acclaimed series Carpoolers (2011–12).
Made by Louis Prélier, the 1839 daguerreotype depicts the Port of Veracruz and is the earliest known daguerreotype in the Eastman Museum’s collection. Prélier was a French expatriate who worked as an engraver in Mexico City. He was in Paris in 1839, when the daguerreotype was introduced and the announcement of the invention of photography was made. In December of 1839, when he arrived from France in the Port of Veracruz, he made several demonstrations of the daguerreotype process, according to newspaper reports. All of the images he made in Veracruz were thought to have been lost, but the museum has one in its collection, along with seven whole-plate daguerreotypes Prélier made in Mexico City.
The Prélier daguerreotypes, including the Veracruz daguerreotype, were collected by Gabriel Cromer, whose collection was purchased by the Eastman Kodak Company in 1939 from Comer’s widow in Paris, and was then given to the museum in 1949. It has been with the museum since it first opened to the public.
This rotation in the History of Photography Gallery will remain on view through April 30, 2017.
Focus 45: Mexico and the Photographic Imagination
Saturday, October 29, 12 p.m., Curtis Theatre
In conjunction with her History of Photography installation, Assistant Curator Heather Shannon will use the 1839 Veracruz daguerreotype as a starting point to explore the history of photography through photographs made in Mexico. The talk is free for museum members, and included with admission to the museum.
About the Photography Collection
The George Eastman Museum’s photography collection is among the best and most comprehensive in the world. With holdings that include objects ranging in date from the announcement of the medium’s invention in 1839 to the present day, the collection represents the full history of photography. Works by renowned masters of the medium exist side-by-side with vernacular and scientific photographs. The collection also includes all applications of the medium, from artistic pursuit to commercial enterprise and from amateur pastime to documentary record, as well as all types of photographic processes, from daguerreotypes to digital prints.