Camera Obscura

First portraits in daguerreotype 1841-1851

Among the 600,000 remarkable photographs that are preserved in the Quai Branly Museum, there is a great number of daguerreotypes, many of which have yet to be published. This catalogue provides an opportunity to find out about them, and to collate some of the oldest known photographs that show non-Europeans. Camera Obscura plays with contrasting formats, colours and techniques – daguerreotypes offer a fugitive image that is perceived through its reflection. 

So, without giving way to the temptation to constitute a representative ‘sample’ of the collection, this catalogue aims at being a reflection of and an introduction to it.

It combines a selection of 30 daguerreotypes, all reproduced in actual size, accompanied by a historical text by Christine Barthe, who commissioned the exhibition, about the Quai Branly Museum’s collection, and a text by Jérôme Monnier about daguerreotypes.

This work was published as part of the Photoquai 2007 biennale.


64 pages in 24 cm x 34 cm format

ca. 30 full page illustrations

Catalogue raisonné of the 60 exhibited artworks.

price : 20 €

isbn 978-2-915133-65-3 / 978-2-350390-46-8

A co-publication by the musée du quai Branly/Éditions Nicolas Chaudun

buy this catalogue online

exhibition curator

Christine Barthe, scientific director of the patrimony section of the Photographic Collections, Quai Branly Museum.