'Ruins of Holyrood Chapel', by Louis Daguerre (1787-1851)
Daguerre’s fascination with dioramas stemmed from his interest in finding appropriate ways of capturing light and atmospheric effects in painting, as well as making perspective an expressive and dramatic medium. The increasing taste for travelling and particularly visiting ruins and picturesque sites in the 18th century manner made Daguerre’s dioramas particularly popular among the people of his time. For those who did not have the chance to travel, dioramas offered an experience close to a real visit, while for the privileged it helped revive their memories and emotions.
Daguerre is best known for his contribution to the history of photography. He invented the first photographic process, the daguerréotype in 1839. Daguerre was apprenticed to an architect at the age of sixteen while also training as a draughtsman. He also worked in the studio of the stage designer for the Paris Opera, Ignace-Eugene-Marie Degotti as well as assisting Pierre Prévost in designing panorama paintings for public entertainment.
Daguerre established his reputation as a stage designer for Parisian theatres, especially with the development of dioramas. These were buildings designed by Daguerre for displaying his and Charles-Marie Bouton’s huge paintings. Most of the themes of the paintings were landscapes, chapel interiors and volcanoes. The paintings were executed on thin linen. Often real props were added to enhance spectators’ experience. Lighting from the front and the back of the picture was used to suggest gradual passage from day to evening light as well the appearance and disappearance of actors and actresses. When one scene of the play was completed the auditorium was rotated to bring another view or picture on stage. These dioramas were in an early form of cinema and were very popular. The first diorama was opened in Paris in 1822. Its success was such that Daguerre was asked to design another one in London.
'The Ruins of Holyrood Chapel' relates to the painting with the same title, which Daguerre exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1824. The only difference between the two was that the Paris Salon work included the figure of a comtess, who was visiting the tomb of her former friend, the Duchesse de Grammont.#Daguerre #history of photography #history #rococo