Daguerreotype of a young boy, c 1850.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A hand-coloured daguerreotype portrait of a boy wearing lace pantaloons, by John Jabez Edwin Mayall (1813-1901). Mayall exhibited his photographs at the Great Exhibition in 1851. He is best known for his photographs of Queen Victoria and the Royal Family. In 1839, the Daguerreotype, invented by Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre [1787-1851], became the first photographic process to be announced to the public. Daguerreotypes are unique images which may appear as a positive or negative depending on how light hits the surface. A highly-polished silver surface on a copper plate was sensitised to light by exposing it to iodine fumes. After exposing the plate in a camera it was developed with mercury vapour.