Henry Coit Perkins (1804-1873) was a native son of Newburyport, Massachusetts. After graduating from Harvard and the Harvard Medical School, he returned to his hometown to practice medicine as a country doctor. In the fall of 1839, he began experimenting with the daguerreotype process, a new photographic technique invented in France, by which he had become fascinated. The process was the first practicable method of obtaining permanent images with a camera and gave rise to the birth of photography as a tool of record, as well as an art form.
This presentation will explore the processes that Perkins used to produce six views of Newburyport that have become recognized as among the earliest daguerreotypes in the United States. Recent research has revealed a full portrait of Perkins and his role in early American photographic history.
Note: One of Perkin’s 1839 views of Newburyport is included in the National Gallery of Art’s exhibition “East of the Mississippi: Nineteenth Century American Landscape Photography,” in Washington, D.C., March 12, 2017 – July 16, 2017 and the New Orleans Museum of Art, October 5, 2017 – January 7, 2018.
5:00 Wine and Cheese, 5:30 Lecture Begins
Strawbery Banke, Portsmouthy