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Gold and Silver, daguerreotypes from the California Gold Rush


The book Gold and Silver , by author Luce Lebart, offers a contemporary insight into an exclusive archive of the California Gold Rush held by the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada, and donated by the Archive of Modern Conflict. Young nineteenth-century Argonauts look at the camera, defying all the conventions of portraiture. Everything in these pictures – their attitudes, their stares, their clothes – deviates from the usual representations associated with daguerreotype photography. These portraits are accompanied by a series of landscape photographs, also printed on metal. Together, they reveal a pioneering iconography of the American landscape that stresses the human use of the land. The photographers manipulated their images after they were printed, adding gold dust onto streams or gold nuggets onto the sieves of the pioneers. The book design also highlights the relations between gold from the Great West and silver – two kinds of metallic salts used in photography.


Gold and Silver
Published by RVB Books & L’Institut Canadien de la photographie

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