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Daguerre and his Diorama in the 1830s:
some financial announcements

by R. Derek Wood

First published in 1997 in Photoresearcher (European Society for the History of Photography), No 6 (1994/95/96), pp.35-40

Daguerre, a daguerreotype portrait by J. B. Sabatier-Blot, 1844
Daguerre, daguerreotype portrait
by J. B. Sabatier-Blot 1844

On 25 April 1821 L. J. M. Daguerre and Charles-Marie Bouton made an agreement [1] to establish ‘un monument d’exposition d’effets de peinture (visible pendant le jour) sous la dénomination de Diorama’. By 3 January 1822 they were able to put their signatures as partners to a legal agreement with shareholders to exploit the Diorama. In the following months it was built in Paris behind Place du Château d’Eau (now Place de la Républic) in rue Samson at the corner with rue des Marais.

Adjacent was Daguerre’s studio. This part of Paris (Fauberg du Temple, 10th Arrondissement) was a little shabby. A mixture of Army barracks and a scattering of theatres, by the mid-century it was considerably redeveloped [2].

Detail from 'Le Château d'Eau, Marché aux Fleurs' (Vues de Paris)
By courtesy of Collection Gérard Lévy et François Lepage, Paris.
Detail from ‘Le Château d'Eau, Marché aux Fleurs’ (Vues de Paris), c.1830-5.
From a coloured lithograph by Philippe Benoist (with figures by A. Bayot)

To the left of Place du Château d'Eau, the rear of the wings of Daguerre's Diorama.
The tall windows along the rear wall provided the light transmitted through the tableaux.

Emplacement du Diorama
  Emplacement du diorama, from Daguerre, Peintre et Décorateur,
  Georges Potonniée   (Paul Montel: Paris, 1935).
  [The site of the Diorama can now be pin-pointed on the south side of
rue Léon Jouhaux just off the north corner of Place de la Republic, a
modern map of the area today can be seen on the Google Maps website]

Daguerre's house, rue des Marais
Daguerre’s house, rue des Marais
Wood engraving by D. A. Lancelot (1822-1894),
from Magasin Pittoresque, August 1868.

The Diorama opened on 11 July 1822 showing two tableaux: ‘La vallée de Sarnen’ by Daguerre and ‘La Chapelle de la Trinité dans l'Église de Canterbury’ by Bouton. During the first period of the Diorama in Paris from 1822 to 1830 there were shown ten tableau by Daguerre and the same number by Bouton [3]. The Diorama acquired a considerable popular reputation in Paris. The profits in certain years, it was once suggested, reached as much as 200,000 francs (£8,000). This would certainly be a remarkable profit as even a gross income of that amount would require 80,000 visitors at the entrance fee of 2.50 francs. The allegation about 200,000 francs has little basis [4], but the most prosperous years must have been well before 1830.

By October that year Daguerre had become the sole director, as Bouton withdrew from the partnership and went to London. A letter written by Daguerre on 1 July 1830 suggests, as pointed out by J. M. Eder in his History of Photography, that ‘Daguerre at that period was pressed for money even though he was considered well-to-do’, [5] and there is some other evidence 6 that the Diorama in Paris did not prosper greatly throughout the 1830s. Only three months after the invention of the Daguerreotype was announced at the beginning of 1839, at a time when Arago’s plans to obtain a pension from the government for Daguerre had been unable to make any headway (the administration was in considerable political disarray), the Diorama burnt down [7].

Three tableaux on exhibition at that time were covered by insurance. An investigation concerning the valuation of those dioramas was finalised at the Royal Court of Civil Justice on 13 January 1840. A report of those proceedings published in the Gazette des Tribunaux, as well as a few Legal Announcements from earlier in the 1830s, provides some fresh insight into the financial affairs of the Diorama and of Daguerre himself both during the time at the Diorama when he was developing the daguerreotype technique, as well as in 1839 when he was hoping to reap some financial recompense for the many years work on this spectacular way to 'capture the fleeting images of the camera obscura.'

The most significant fact that emerges from the first three legal announcements transcribed here, is that Daguerre was an official bankrupt for almost three years from 27 March 1832 to 20 February 1835. The progress of the Diorama in Paris was marked first by Daguerre's formation of a partnership with Bouton on 25 April 1821, followed by an Agreement with a company of Shareholders dated 3 January 1822, although the details of the latter contract remain unknown. Obviously capital from the Shareholders enabled the Diorama to be built, but it would have been nice to know what share they received of the subsequent income during the first years. Twenty-one tableaux were painted and shown in the first eight years following the opening of the Diorama in Paris on 11 July 1822.

The first few years were an undoubted success with the public and there is no substantial reason to suppose that those years were not also financially rewarding. However, certainly by April 1830, all was not well. The big gap in our knowledge of the Diorama at this period remains the relationship between Daguerre and Bouton. He may even have been the original major instigator of the enterprise. The reasons for his departure to London in 1830 and his relationship afterwards with Daguerre are unknown, although the fact that no dioramas were exchanged between Daguerre in Paris and Bouton in London suggests the split was severe.

Out of the twenty-one tableaux painted and shown in Paris between 1822 and 1830, seventeen [8] were sold at that time to the proprietor of the London Diorama. The first contract was to sell twelve tableaux for 15,000 francs (600 Pounds sterling) each: they were displayed in London between October 1823 and 1829. But later - because it was said the entreprenuers in London were barely solvent - Daguerre had to reduce the price by half. Possibly that re-negotiation took place in 1829, but the most likely time was when Daguerre made a hasty short visit to London (indeed the only documented occasion when he is known to have done so) in April 1830. [9]

Perhaps the proceeds of those sales went into the company accounts which in addition to the income from entrance fees paid by the public would thus provide dividends to the shareholders. But assuming such sales would be divided only within Daguerre and Bouton's own partnership, then the total from sale to London of the dioramas over eight years provided a gross sum of around 230,000 francs. Thus it would provide for each man an additional gross amount of 14,000 francs per annum, a considerable sum in those days. No legal document has been found relating to the dissolution of partnership between these two men.

Daguerre's dioramas in Paris: Timetable of the 1830s, by R. D. Wood

Daguerre’s Diorama in Paris: Timetable of the 1830s
by R. Derek Wood, 1993

List of the Dioramas on display

   D.20  ‘Sermon dans l'eglise royal de Santa Maria Nuova, à Monreale en Sicile'.
   D.19  ‘Inaugeration du Temple de Salomon'.
   D.18  ‘Eboulement de la Vallée de Goldau'.
   D.17  ‘Une Messe de minuit a Saint-Etienne-du-Mont'.
   D.16  ‘Le Bassin central du commerce à Gand'.
   D.15  ‘Vue de la Forêt Noire'.
   D.14  ‘Mont Blanc, prise de la Vallée de Chamouny'.
   D.13  ‘Le Tombeau de Napoléon; à Sainte-Hèlène'.
   D.12  ‘Le 28 juillet 1830 à L'Hôtel de Ville [Paris]'.
   D.11  ‘Vue de Paris, prise de Montmartre'.
   D.10  ‘Le Commencement du Déluge' (shown 4 November 1829 to 31 January 1831).
   D. 7   Second showing of ‘la Ville d’Edimbourg, pendant l’Incendie’.
   B.10  ‘Campo-Santo de Pise’, by Bouton (1 August 1829 to 14 May 1830).

The dates of the showings of the tableaux during the 1830s decade at the Paris Diorama are from Georges Potonniée's Liste des Tableaux Exposés au Diorama de 1822-1839 in his Daguerre, Peintre et Décorateur, Paris 1935, pp.79-89.

Daguerre’s first nine dioramas were shown in Paris during the 1820s only, then (except the seventh, ‘Edinburgh during the fire’) in Great Britain in the 1820s and 1830s, so are not part of this table. Although Daguerre's 1830 diorama ‘Paris from Montmarte’ (D.11) soon went to London, the remainder of his tableaux of this decade were only seen in Paris. The ‘double effect’ dioramas produced from 1834 were by himself and co-painter Sébron. Ten dioramas by Bouton were shown in Paris in the 1820s, but the last (‘Campo-Santo, Pisa’, B.10) was still on display into the new year of 1830 when Bouton left Paris.

[The above graph and caption were omitted by the editor when this article was published after a long delay in Photoresearcher in 1997]

Daguerre was declared bankrupt on 27 March 1832. This does not entirely point to a specific problem with the Diorama only, for that year was generally difficult for many types of business because of the devasting effects of a most severe cholera epidemic that gripped Paris. The bankuptcy was not lifted for almost three years. So, difficult years, but not fatal. When his bankruptcy was declared, Daguerre provided a valuation of 7000 francs for each of the very few tableaux that he had in 1832. It can only have been a few months after his bankruptcy was annulled in 1835 that Daguerre took out insurance for the current tableaux: 60,000 francs cover for an unspecified three while on display, but with no cover for any diorama demounted on rolls.

These ‘double-effect’ dioramas produced after 1834 by Daguerre and his co-painter, Sèbron, were more complicated than the earlier ones. They were said to take ten or eleven months of continuous work in contrast to those of the 1820s. Daguerre later alleged that three of the earlier ‘simple-effect’ dioramas could be done in one year, but this does not accord with the number actually produced by himself and Bouton: it was probably a convenient argument to bolster the insured value of the ‘double-effect’ dioramas.

By the summer of 1837 Daguerre obviously felt his work on the daguerreotype technique had advanced enough to make an agreement with Niepce's son to sell the process the following year: if a single purchaser could not be found at 200,000 francs, then one hundred subscribers would be sought. This idea proved unfruitful, so finally Niepce and Daguerre’s work was made public through an announcement by the influential scientist and politician, François Arago, at the Paris Academy of Sciences on 7 January 1839. Arago stated that, provided he himself was entirely convinced by the technique after Daguerre had given a private demonstration, he would then approach an appropriate Minister to arrange for the government to provide a just recompense to Daguerre in return for the public release of the secret. However, the first few weeks, indeed months, of 1839 were characterised as a period of interminable ministerial crisis.

An election took place on 4 March 1839 but the result was not political stability. Even by the time the Chambre des Députés was due to open its first new session one month later, it had still not been possible to form a definite cabinet of ministers. Indeed armed riots had begun in the streets of Paris on 12 May before ministers were decisively appointed. In these circumstances it should not be surprising, even with the support of such an influential Deputy as Arago, that consideration of compensation for Niepce and Daguerre's many years work should remain in abeyance.

{For the present writer, R. D. Wood} This general government paralysis is another good reason why it is unnecessary to take seriously what Pierre Harmant [10] has rightly described as 'une perfide hypothese' that Daguerre could have burnt down the diorama to force the hand of the Government. On 14 June 1839 Daguerre and Niepce signed a document with the Minister of the Interior (T. Duchtel, who had been appointed only 4 weeks earlier) agreeing that a bill be put forward to award them pensions. Daguerre must also on this day have been told that an announcement would be immediately issued that he was made Officer of the Legion of Honour. [11] The next day the bill was brought before the Chambre des Députés and was considered in that Chambre and in the Chambre des Pairs in several sessions throughout July 1839. [12]

Thus the passing of the Bill through parliament that Daguerre be granted a pension of 6000 francs (£250 Sterling), as well as 4000 francs per annum for Isidore Niepce, 'in return for the cession made by them of the process to fix the images in a camera obscura' consequently became law on 7 August 1839. [13] Arago, on behalf of Daguerre, consequently released an account of the Daguerreotype technique at a special lecture on 19 August 1839. It is unfortunate that this delay is one of the ways that the earliest days of photography got off on a wrong foot.

1839 must have been an exciting year for Daguerre. On 8 March when fire broke out in the Diorama, Daguerre arrived back to find the fire brigade at work, and persuaded them with urgency to stop the flames spreading to the fifth floor of the adjacent house which held his daguerreotype specimens, equipment and documents. Otherwise the situation would have been grave. The Diorama was an enterprise close to its natural end, so loss of the diorama tableaux, particularly as they were insured, was far from disastrous. The Diorama Shareholders company was wound up on 5 July. This suggests that shareholders only received dividends from entrance fees, without claim on the unsettled insurance. Certainly Daguerre must have had many weeks of financial insecurity and unsettling anticipation.

By September he was much occupied with public demonstrations and discussion of his technique. In October we even find him (although that is another full story in its own right) enquiring if it would be acceptable for him to offer a gift of a daguerreotype to the young Queen of England, only to find that she (or maybe her advisors with family connections with W. H. F. Talbot) were not particularly amused at the idea. In August and September Daguerre had presented Daguerreotypes to several members of European Royalty. It was not only a useful publicity move, but sometimes financially worthwhile: Emperor Ferdinand of Austria had in return sent Daguerre a gold medal and an initialed snuff box worth 1,200 florins. [14]

After the fire at the Diorama and adjacent studio, Daguerre lived a short distance away in Boulevard St.Martin. In January 1841 he (then aged fifty-three) and his wife moved to Bry-sur-Marne, a village a few kilometres to the east of Paris. The fifth report reproduced below suggests that Daguerre may have already obtained upto 140,000 francs insurance compensation for the destruction of the building, but no other certain information on this matter is available. With regard to the insurance on the diorama tableaux some arbitration took place during 1839 at the Tribunal des Commerce, but payment was not settled until a final appeal held at the Royal Court of Civil Justice in Paris on Friday 10th and Monday 13th January 1840.

Two experts on paintings, the artist Paul Delaroche and an estimater of the Royal Museums, had been consulted and produced a report paying attention to the amount of work that needed to be put into producing these pictures and thus supporting Daguerre’s valuation of 60,000 francs. The Salamandre Insurance company offered half that amount. Arbitrators had considered that the sum payable on the loss of the three diorama tableaux should be reduced because the commercial value of each would have depreciated differing amounts in proportion to the length of time they had been displayed to the public. ‘Sermon in Santa Maria Nuova’ had been open to the public for only 11 months and 14 days so could be valued at 20,000 francs while the other two were reduced to 15,000 and 12,000 (‘Valley of Goldau’ had been displayed for almost three and a half years!) giving a total of 47,000 francs. The final decision of the Court President was to award the latter figure.

The destruction by fire of Daguerre’s Diorama on 8 March 1839 was a truly fateful event. It has all the elements to stimulate the imagination: to consider, say, the course of history if such a fire had taken place only three months earlier: if Daguerre's work on the Daguerreotype had been destroyed; the permutations of chance make it a fascinating event. But such considerations are irrelevant: what actually happened in 1839 is a story difficult to beat. Ernest Lacan in 1874 obviously grasped with delight the new view of the fire from the officer of the fire brigade that came into his hands. [15]

The Diorama had been Daguerre’s sole source of income, but indeed, as we have seen, that income was problematic. Although Daguerre in the Spring of 1839 must have suffered various inconveniences, and surely considerable stress, due to the fire, that event was ultimately of benefit to him. The Daguerreotype technique was not yet fast enough to take portraits, and during the previous two years he had obviously decided that the sale of the process made more sense than a personal commercial enterprise in taking views. Daguerre would have had legal fees to pay, but the money awarded under the insurance was good, for to whom and for how much would he have been able to sell the tableaux if the Diorama had been closed in a more everyday way? Once the final verdict at the Royal Court of Civil Justice was reached on 13 January 1840, Daguerre cannot have been too unhappy when he looked back over the past extraordinary year. [But if the Diorama had not burnt down maybe he would not have retired one year later to Bry-sur-Marne.]

ESSAY 1 :  Part 1  Part 2   Part 3   Footnotes  |  ESSAY 2 (Paris)  |
 Diorama Patent |  More Images  |  Home Page  |


Announcement 1 (published April 13, 1832 [16]):

du 27 mars 1832.

DAGUERRE, au nom et comme géraut de la société en commandite pour l'exploitation du DIORAMA, rue des Marais, faub. du Temple.

Juge-com., M. Ferron; agent, M. Martin, Faub. Poissonnière, 18,

Announcement 2 (published December 27, 1834 [17]):


au Tribunal de commerce de la Seine,
rue des Jeûneurs, n.1 bis,

Par exploit de Cabit, huissier à Paris, opposition a été formée au jugement rendu en ce Tribunal le vingt-sept mars mil huit cent trente-deux, déclaratif de la faillite de M. Louis-Jacques MEUDE[sic]-DAGUERRE, demeurant à Paris, rue des Marais, n. 5, au nom et comme gerant de la société du Diorama, avec demande en annulation dudit jugement.

Toute personne intéressée à contredire est invitée à fournir débats dans la huitaine, soit vis-à-vis du syndic M. Martin, rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière, n.18,

soit vis-à-vis de M. le juge commissaire.

Pour extrait:

Announcement 3 (published February 26, 1835 [18]):


au Tribunal de commerce de la Seine,
rue des Jeûneurs, 1 bis,

D'un jugement rendu le 20 février 1835, au Tribunal de commerce de la Seine.


Le précédent jugement rendu par ce Tribunal, le 27 mars 1832, déclaratif de la faillite de la faillite de M. Louis Jacques Mande DAGUERRE, artiste peintre, demeurant à Paris, rue des Marais, n. 5, au nom et comme gérant du Diorama, a été annulé et M. DAGUERRE rétabil a la tête de ses affaires.

Pour extrait:

Announcement 4 (published July 19, 1839 [19]) :


de Viefville, agréé au Tribunal de commerce
de la Seine, rue Montmartre, 154.

D'un acte enregistré fait sous seings privés, à Paris, le 5 juillet 1839, déposé chez Me Clairet, notaire à Paris;

Entre M. Louise-Jacques-Mandé DAGUERRE, officier de la Légion-d'Honneur, propriétaire, demaurant à Paris, boulevart Saint-Martin, 17, seul gérant au moyen de la retraite de M. Bouton de la société en commandite formée par acte passé devant Me Clairet et son collègue, notaires à Paris, le 3 janvier 1822, pour la création et l'exploitation du Diorama, d'une part. Et les actionnaires de ladite compagnie, d'autre part.


La société a été dissoute à compter du 5 juillet 1839.

M. Daguerre a été nommé liquidateur.

Pour extrait:
Eugène Lefebvre,

Announcement/Report 5 (published September 22, 1839 [20]) :

Paris, 21 Septembre [1839]. Le nom de M. Daguerre retentissait aujourd'hui à l'audience de la chambre des vacations du Tribunal ...
Le procès que M.Daguerre a à soutenir devant le Tribunal civil se rattache à l'incendie qui, au mois de mars dernier, consuma le Diorama . M. Sanson de Sansal propriétaire des terrains sur lesquels s'élevaient les constructions de M. Daguerre, demande à celui-ci, a défaut de ces constructions qui devaient lui appartenir à l'expiration du bail, 140,000 d'indemnités versées par trois compagnies d'assurances, et qui représentent la valeur des bâtimens incendiés. Nous rendrons compte de cette affair.

Announcement/Report 6 (published January 31, 1840 [21]) :

[This is a long report of more than 1800 words providing information already incorporated into the above article. Therefore only extracts are given here consisting mainly of the final presentation by Daguerre’s Advocate.]

(1re chambre). (Présidence de M.Simonneau.)
Audiences des 10 et 13 janvier 1840.

Incendie du Diorama
Indemnité pour les Tableaux Exposés, La Vallée de Goldau, Le Temple de Salomon, Le Sermon


M. Daguerre, aidé de M. Bouton, puis de M. Niepce, a conquis, d'abord par le Diorama, ensuite par le daguerréotype, une célébrité bien méritée. Toutefois, il rencontre aujourd'hui de grandes difficultés dans l'appréciation des produits de son art; la Compagnie d'assurances la Salamandre, qui sans doute est la première à regretter la perte de certains tableaux qui font l'objet de ces difficultés, lui dispute avec vivacité l'indemnité qui en résulte.

[Appointed arbitrators first presented a report obtained from two experts (Paul Delaroche and M. Georges) who concluded that Daguerre's valuation of 60,000 francs made in 1835 for three 'double-effect' dioramas was acceptable]

...Les arbitres, en reconnaissant que le rapport des experts contenait les bases d'une saine application, ont pensé toutefois qu'il fallait tenir compte du temps pendant lequel chacun des trois tableaux avait été exposé ... En somme, 47,000 francs ont été alloués à M. Daguerre, savoir: 20,000 francs pour le Sermon; 15,00[0] francs pour le Temple; 12,000 francs pour la Vallée. La Compagnie [la Salamandre] a interjeté appel principal; offrant 30,000 francs seulement; M. Daguerre, appel incident, demandant 60,000 francs ...
Me Dupin, avocat de M. Daguerre, présente à l'appui de l'incrimination qu'il adresse à la Salamandre sur ses dispositions processives, un jugement du Tribunal de commerce de Paris, où on lit que cette compagnie a eu recours à des moyens dilatoires pour se soustraire à l'exécution de ses engagements.

«On représente, ajoute l'avocat, un journal qui, par la main même de celui qui a obtenu le jugement, disculpe positivement la compagnie. Cela s'explique aisement par cette clause de l'assurance qui, pour n'être plus formellement écrite, n'en est pas moins restée dans les habitudes de ces sortes de compagnies, à savoir: que celui qui était indemnisé était tenu de faire insérer dans deux journaux le fait du paiement avec apologie de la compagnie qui s'acquittait envers lui. Dans l'espèce jugée par le Tribunal de commerce, l'assuré, ayant été payé, a donné toutes les lettres qu'on a voulú; il eût pu en donner davantage encore sans que cela prouvât rien.»

M. Dupin appuie sa discussion au fond des argumens divers admis par le experts, dont l'avis consciencieux a fixé à 60,000 francs le sinistre occasionné à M. Daguerre.

»On a choisi pour experts un peintre distingué, un habile estimateur des musées royaux; qui donc fallait-il prendre pour une telle expertise? Evidemment les artistes ont fait preuve en cela de justice et de goût. On cite néanmoins les appréciations moindres établies par M. Daguerre lui-même. D'abord elles sont motivées sur la différence des tableaux à effet simple et à effet double. Ceux de la première catégorie (car alors les autres n'existaient pas), ont seuls été indiqués comme étant de la valeur de 7,000 francs chaque. Et puis, il faut tout dire, la circonstance dans laquelle cette évaluation a été faite par M. Daguerre l'explique bien naturellement; il voyait avec douleur déchoir et périr un établissement fondé par lui; son intention était de le racheter. On comprend que ses préoccupations du moment aient déterminé les chiffres qu'il indiquait alors, et qui approchaient d'ailleurs à cette époque de la valeur réelle, en raison de la concurrence de tableaux du même genre exposés notamment au Diorama [22] de Langlois; mais il en est tout autrement des tableaux à effet double qui, comme l'ont dit les experts, coûtent beaucoup plus de temps que les tableaux à effet simple.»

Après délibération, la Cour, adoptant les motifs des premiers juges, a confirmé leur décision sur les deux appels.

R. Derek Wood, 1994

ESSAY 1 :  Part 1  Part 2   Part 3   Footnotes  |  ESSAY 2 (Paris)  |
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1. BACK to text A dossier containing Daguerre and Bouton's Agreement of 1821, amongst documents relating to 'Projets de Sociétés' of the Conseil et du Bureau du Commerce surviving in the Archives Nationales in Paris [ AN  F°12, 6832 ], is described by Pierre G. Harmant, ‘L’incendie du Diorama de Daguerre’, Le Photographe, Vol. 52 (20 Mars 1962), pp. 141-3.

2. BACK to text Georges Potonniée, ‘Note sur l’emplacement du diorama’, Bulletin Société Française Photographie, Vol. 7 (séries 3), (Avril 1920), pp. 80-85; and Daguerre, Peintre et Décorateur, Paul Montel: Paris (1935), pp. 46, 63.

3. BACK to text Liste des Tableaux exposés au [Paris] Diorama de 1822 -1839’, in Georges Potonniée, Daguerre, Peintre et Décorateur, Paul Montel: Paris (1935), pp. 79-89.

4. BACK to text Georges Potonniée, Daguerre Peintre et Décorateur, (Paris 1935), pp. 67-8, writes that the Paris Diorama might (he says, according to Mentienne) have had profits in some years of as much as 200,000 francs:

‘Daguerre est mort pauvre. Il avait cependant, dit Mentienne, gagné jusqu'à 200.000 francs pendant certaines années du Diorama. Mais il n’était point économe. Et d’ailleurs, ses économies, il les avait employées à racheter les actions de sa sociéte avec l'ambition de demeurer unique propriétaire de son établissement. Ainsi à peu près toute sa fortune était engagée...’.

       Potonniée does not provide the exact place in Mentienne’s book where such a statement was made, but the closest passage that can be found is A. Mentienne, La découvert de la Photographie en 1839, (Paris 1892), pp. 137-8 where it is said

‘une peu avant la livraison de sa découvert, son exposition dite du Diorama fut incendiée, il perdit là plusieurs certaines de mille francs qui conposaient toute sa fortune ... le gouvernement français avait parlé de lui offrir une somme de 200,000 francs [the price sought by Daguere and Niepce if the invention was sold by subscription]; Daguerre ne voulut pas accepter, il préféra une pension viagere’.

       Potonniée’s research and writing was usually excellent so it is surprising that he must have misread or become confused about this passage by Mentienne, which was, infact, not about money obtained from the Diorama, but about the 200,000 francs Daguerre had wanted to obtain for the daguerreotype technique by subscription in 1837-39, and said by Mentienne to be offered in 1839 by the government!

5. BACK to text J. M. Eder, History of Photography, 4th edition, translated into English by E. Epstean, Dover Publications, New York (1978), p. 210, with letter dated 1 July 1830 from Daguerre to M. Dauptain.

6. BACK to text (a) H. and A. Gernsheim, L. J. M. Daguerre: The History of the Diorama and the Daguerreotype, Dover Publications, New York (1968), pp. 29, 37-38. (b) Three letters (9 October 1830; 31 January, 8 March 1832) from Daguerre to N. Niepce, in T.P. Kravets, Documents on the History of the Invention of Photography (Dokumenti po Istorii Izobreteniya fotografii), Academy of Sciences, Archives Publication No.7: Leningrad (1949), pp. 360-1, 380, 388-9. (c) In his letter to Niepce of 8 March 1832, Daguerre said his “losses were due to the events of July 1830”, but surely this must have meant something more personally specific than the general political upheavals of the week following 27 July? His financial difficulties had certainly been apparent by 1 July 1830.

7. BACK to text Incendie du Diorama’: La Quotidienne, 9 Mars 1839, p.3, Gazette des Tribunaux, 9 Mars 1839, p.473, Moniteur Universel, 9 Mars 1839, p.355 and 15 Mars 1839, p.380, Le Constitutionnel, 9 Mars 1839, p.3a and 20 Mars 1839, p.1a. Daguerre's arrival at the fire, and consequent survival of items in his adjacent studio, were described by an officer of the Fire brigade in an an account (maybe later reminiscence rather than contemporary) that came into the hands of Ernest Lacan, editor of Moniteur de la Photographie, who in 1874 wrote about it in that journal on 15 October 1874, pp. 156-8, as well as providing a brief version in English for the Photographic News (London), Vol. 18 (16 October 1874), p. 500. See also discussion by Pierre Harmant, ‘L’incendie...,’ Le Photographe, Mars 1962).

8. BACK to text At a final insurance hearing in January 1840 (see note 21) it was said that eighteen was the number of tableaux sold to London. However, documentation of the dioramas displayed in London provides only seventeen (9 by Daguerre and 8 by Bouton). Daguerre's 'Edinburgh during the fire' certainly stayed in Paris, and as his 'Beginning of the Flood' was on display in Paris until 31 January 1831, the 18th diorama could only be 'View of Venice' by Bouton shown in Paris from October 1828 until 8 November 1829. There is no positive evidence from London sources that this 18th diorama was purchased. Even so, the possibility cannot be absolutely rejected, because no reviews or advertisments for the Regent's Park Diorama have been found in the press throughout 1832. For the subsequent history of the tableaux after arrival in London see the present author’s ‘The Diorama in Great Britain in the 1820s’, History of Photography, Vol.17, No.3 (Autumn 1993), pp. 284-295.

9. BACK to text Letter dated 29 Mars 1830 from Daguerre in Paris to N. Niepce, and another of 13 April 1830 at Diorama in London to F. Bauer, in T. P. Kravets (1949), pp. 343-7 (letters 105, 106).

10. BACK to text Pierre G. Harmant, ‘L’incendie...’ (Mars 1962).

11. BACK to text Moniteur Universel, 16 Juin 1839, p.987.

12. BACK to text Chambre des Députés, séances 15 Juin, 3 and 9 Juillet 1839; Chambre des Pairs, séances 17 Juillet, 30 Juillet, and 2 Août 1839. The events at the two French legislative chambers have been documented by the author in a forthcoming article, ‘Une juste récompense: The process of acquiring a pension for L. J. M. Daguerre from the French government in exchange for the secret of his daguerreotype technique’ [retitled ‘A State Pension for L. J. M. Daguerre for the secret of his daguerreotype technique’, Annals of Science, 54 (September 1997), pp. 489-506]

13. BACK to text Ordonnance No. 8099, signed 7 Août 1839, Bulletin des Lois, 2e semestre 1839, No. 669 (9e series), pp. 189-191.

14. BACK to text J. M. Eder, op.cit., pp. 246-8.

15. BACK to text Moniteur de la Photographie, 15 October 1874, pp. 156-8.

16. BACK to text Gazette des Tribunaux, 13 avril 1832, p. 604.

17. BACK to text ibid., 27 décembre 1834, p. 202.

18. BACK to text ibid., 26 février 1835, p. 412.

19. BACK to text ibid., 19 juillet 1839, p. 960.

20. BACK to text ibid., 22 septembre 1839, p. 1183.

21. BACK to text ibid., 31 janvier 1840, p. 319.

22. BACK to text An odd reference to ‘diorama’ as colonel Charles Langlois painted huge non-dioramic panoramas devoted entirely to military history. His circular building, Panorama de Navarin, opened in February 1831 at 40 rue des Marais suitably close to the army barracks, further along the same road as Daguerre's Diorama. In May 1839 Langlois moved into a new rotunda in the Champs Elysées Moniteur Universel, 28 Mai 1839, p. 793.

Diorama et Wauxhall (title of plate)
Top row Image 1 Top row Image 2

Middle row Image

Bottom row Image 1 Bottom row Image 2

scale of plans and elevations (footer of plate)

Diorama et Wauxhall, Paris
Alexis Donnet et Orgiazzi et continué par J. A Kaufmann
Architectonographie des théâtres de Paris, Lacroix et Baudry:
Paris, 1837, serie 1, planche 23

The individual sections of the above figure can
be displayed and downloaded for closer study:
top row [Image 1], [Image 2];   middle row [Image];
bottom row [Image 1] ,   [Image 2].

The complete planche 23 is also available here as a 1300 pixel wide image.

For more discussion on the history of the Diorama see extracts of the author's
correspondence during the 1990s
with other researchers of problem issues encounted during research.
ESSAY 1 :  Part 1  Part 2   Part 3   Footnotes  |  ESSAY 2 (Paris)  |
 Diorama Patent |  More Images  |  Home Page  |

This document is © copyright R. Derek Wood 1997.
Other than for non-commercial and/or scholarly research this document may not be reproduced in any form electronic or otherwise without the written consent of the author R. Derek Wood
Non-commercial and or scholarly research usage should clearly display the above copyright statement.

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