In conjunction with a new exhibition that highlights animals in photography, the search is on for the earliest photograph ever made of an animal. By Hoof, Paw, Wing or Fin: Creatures in Photographs, on view from September 17 through November 15, 2019 at Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs, explores some of the ways in which photographers have represented animals over the course of the medium’s history. A few days before the show opened in September, a contender for the first photograph of an animal arrived quite unexpectedly at the gallery. The daguerreotype, by Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, depicts cattle reclining by their carts in Rome. According to the chronology established by Stephen Pinson in Monumental Journey, the Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019), one of de Prangey’s first stops on his Mediterranean journey was Rome from April to July 1842. Since it appears that this was the only time he worked in Rome, this daguerreotype of cattle can be precisely dated April to July 1842, and is possibly the earliest firmly dated photograph of any...
This article is reserved for subscribed members only. If you are already a member, you can log in here below.
Subscribe for full access to The Eye of Photography archives!
That’s thousands of images and articles, documenting the history of the medium of photography and its evolution during the last decade, through a unique daily journal. Explore how photography, as an art and as a social phenomenon, continue to define our experience of the world. Two offers are available.
Subscribe either monthly for $5 or annually for $50 (2 months offered).