Add a Comment to this Note (list members only)
Dead medium: Daguerre's Diorama
From: Pat Lichty
Source(s): Picture Perfect: The Art and Artifice of Public Image Making. by Kiku Adatto, Basic Books, 1993

Beaumont Newhall, The Daguerreotype in America (New York,

Dover, 1976 (an excellent source for information on


"...March 8, 1839. Louis Daguerre, a French painter and

inventor, for some seventeen years had been the proprietor

of one of the most popular spectacles in Paris. It was a

theatre of illusions called the Diorama.

"No actors performed in Daguerre's Diorama theatre.

It consisted of a revolving floor that presented views of

three stages. On each stage was an enormous canvas (72'x

48') with scenes painted on both sides. Through the

clever play of light, Daguerre could make one scene

dissolve into another. Parisians were treated to the sight

of an Alpine village before and after an avalanche, or

Midnight Mass from inside and outside the cathedral,

accompanied by candles and the smell of incense."

(((This strikes me as a very early precursor to

Heilig's Sensorama machine, due to the sensory

augmentation of candles and incense. As a side note, as

Daguerre went to meet with his colleague Samuel Morse to

discuss his new device called the telegraph, the Diorama burnt to the ground. Pat Lichty)))