Tuesday, October 13, 2020

"A machine for making likenesses" in "Oliver Twist"

When Oliver Twist and Mrs. Bedwin discuss a portrait, she contrasts painting with something like photography: "[...] painters always make ladies out prettier than they are, or they wouldn't get any custom, child. The man that invented the machine for taking likenesses might have known that would never succeed; it's a deal too honest." However, this chapter was serialized in August 1837, and Louis Daguerre made the first public presentations of photographs in January 1839. So this "machine" must be a precursor technology, like the camera lucida or the "limomachia" invented by Raphael Pinion in 1750 for tracing images projected onto paper – which he even called "a machine for taking likenesses." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 13 October)



No comments: