Saturday, May 17, 2008

Nude Daguerreotypes

These images are in the collection at the Metropolitan Art Museum. Here is a description of "Two Standing Nudes" 1850 by Félix-Jacques-Antoine Moulin from the Met site- 'Although Moulin was sentenced in 1851 to a month in jail for producing images that, according to court papers, were "so obscene that even to pronounce the titles … would be to commit an indecency," this daguerreotype seems more allied to art than to erotica. Absent are the boudoir props, gaudy jewelry, and provocative poses typical of handcolored pornographic daguerreotypes and the stiffly held classical poses of photographic "academies" ostensibly intended for artists as substitutes for the live model. Instead, Moulin depicted these two young women utterly at ease, as unselfconscious in their nudity as Botticelli's Venus.'
The other image is by an unknown photographer, made for a stereoscope in 1840. It's a miracle that these pictures are in focus and natural looking. They had ways of shortening exposure time and arranging devices for sitters to remain still.

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