Daguerréotype representing Balzac

atelier Bisson

Date : 1842

Matériaux et techniques : Daguerréotype

Description : Balzac is depicted in a sleeveless shirt and suspenders, his collar open, his right hand over his heart. This is the sole photograph that exists of Balzac, its negative housed at the Institute of France. Taken in 1842 by the request of Balzac for Madame Hanska.
Balzac had another sitting at the daguerreotypist May 15, 1842.

(The daguerreotype visible in the museum rooms is a modern and reworked copy of the very fragile original kept in storage.)

« If you yourself would like to have the portrait of your servant in daguerreotype, you don’t have to say a word, you’ll receive it in a letter to St. Petersburg. I’m going back to the daguerreotypist, and I’m dumbfounded by the perfection of the lighting technique. You remember how in 1835, 5 years prior to this invention, when I published the ending of Louis Lambert and his musings, the phrases that I included? Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire had been presenting those also. The accuracy and the precision are truly admirable!


Honoré de Balzac to Mme Hanska - 2 mai 1842