Topics in Photographic Preservation 2001, Volume 9, Article 9 (pp. 115-117)

The Hand-Coloring and Retouching of Daguerreotypes and Glass Photographs: An Annotated Bibliography

Monique Fisher(1994)


Bisbee, Arnold. History and Practice of Daguerreotypes. Dayton, Ohio: L.F. Claylin and Co., 1853.

Buerger, Jan. French Daguerreotypes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989. Concentrate on Alice Swan's article Coloriage des Epreuves: French Methods and Materials for Coloring Daguerreotypes.)

Eder, J.M. Colored Daguerreotypes. History of Photography. New York: Columbia University Press, 1945. (Translated by Edward Epstean).

Gaudin, M.A. A General Review of the Daguerreotype. The Photographic Art Journal. June 1853, pp.354–358. (Translated by W. Grigg).

“To avoid streaking the silver, vegetable colors perfectly fulfill these requisites; the coloring elements of dry wood and madder, crystallized and finely ground, give very rich yellows and reds; indigos will give blue the blue; terre de sienne, the browns, which will serve to repress the vivacity of the yellows and reds, and will render them, by their addition in very small quantities, fit to be employed in the coloring of the flesh.”

“Gummy substance will diminish the intensity of the impression”

Humphrey, S.D. American Handbook of the Daguerreotype. New York: Humphrey, 1858. pp.48–55.

“The simplest mode appears to be that of using dry colors prepared in the following manner: a little of the color required, very finely ground, is thrown into a glass containing water, in which a few grains of gum Arabic have been dissolved. After standing a few moments, the mixture may be passed through bibulous paper, and residue perfectly dried for use.”

The principal colors he mentions are carmine, chrome yellow, burnt sienna, ultramarine blue and white.

Jacob, Mike. Daguerreotype Studio Practice: Professional Studios 1841–46. Photographica World, #65, June 1993; pp. 19–21.

Legros, Adolphe. Encyclopedia de la Photographie. Paris, 1856. (Translated by Beaumont Newhall.)

Lerebours, N.P. On Coloring of Portraits, The Photographic Art Journal. April 1851; pp 216–217.

Lerebours, N.P. Treatise on Photography. London, 1843.

Discusses hand-coloring methods used by Mr. Leotard who covered the plate with a hot solution of gum or starch prior to coloring; Mr. Chevalier and Mr. Claudet used dry pigments.

Newhall, Beaumont. The Daguerreotype in America. New York: New York Graphic Society, 1961.

Chapter 12 A Quest for Color and pp.40–41 discuss Isenring's patent for coloring daguerreotypes. A sheet of glass was laid over the daguerreotype and the outline of the area to be colored was traced on the glass with a fine brush and India ink. Next, the tracing paper was put on the glass and outlined with a lead pencil. The outline was followed with a sharp knife. The stencil thus produced, covering all of the area except that to be colored was, fastened on the daguerreotype, which was shaken up with the dry pigment in a closed box.

Pratt, William. Coloring Daguerreotypes. The Photographic Art Journal. October 1851; pp235–236.

Author explains the use of copal varnish to obtain “an imperishable enameled daguerreotype”.

Rinhart, Floyd & Marion. The American Daguerreotype. Athens: University of Georgia, 1981.

See chapter 8 Color and Daguerreotype.

Rintoul, A.N. A Guide to Painting Photographic Portraits. London: J Barnard, 1854?

Snelling and Anthony. A Dictionary of the Photographic Art and Catalogue of Photographic Apparatus and Material. New York: Arno Press, 1979 (reprint).

A list of products sold at Anthony's, which includes the colors used for the hand-coloring of daguerreotypes.

Snelling, H. On Coloring Daguerreotypes. The Photographic Art Journal. January 1853; pp 60–61.

The author mentions the use of the following colors: carmine, Prussian blue, white, chrome yellow, gamboges, yellow ochre, light red, indigo, burnt sienna and burnt umber.

“The rule we shall give for coloring daguerreotypes depends, and are founded upon those observed in miniature painting, and are intended more as hints to the daguerreian artists, in hopes of leading them to attempt improvements, than as instructions wholly to be observed.”

Vaillat, E. Of Coloring of Proofs and Preparation of the Color and Application of the Colors. The Photographic and Fine Art Journal. November 1854; pp.333–334.

Ziegler, J. Coloring Daguerreotypes. The Photographic Art Journal. August 1851; pp 109–111.

The author lists pigments used in hand-coloring: white, yellow, red and blue. He also discusses the quality of these substances (i.e. red made from cochineal). Brushes are made from the hair of the fallow weasel and gum Arabic is used for the best adherence.

“The tinting of daguerreotypes, properly speaking, is nothing more than a light crayon drawing.”


—–. An Artist's Letter on Coloring Photographs. Photographic Fine Art Journal. Volume 13, numbers 3–6, March–June 1860; pp 68, 90–91, 102–04, 114–115, 117, 135–36, and 165–67.

—–. Coloring Magic Lantern Slides. The Photographic News. Volume 14, July 15, 1870; p.336.

—–. Hints to Colorists. The Photographic News. Volume 4, December 7, 1860; p.383.

The article describes how to improve a bad collodion positive and the difficulty in coloring glass positives.

Bellini, Harry. Coloring Glass Positives for the Magic Lantern. Photographic News. February 18, 1859; p.287.

D (?). Notes on Coloring Photographs. The Photographic News. Volume2, February 11, 1859; p.275.

Correspondent discusses what he had learned from one of the “best miniaturists of the day” and how it can be applied to photographs. He sizes print and mounts on a thin Briyol board. Outlines, from the back, the head, face and hands. Lays photograph face down on a burnished side of a copper plate and over the spaces included in the penciled outlines, using heavy pressure with castor. “This gives a better surface than any other plan with which I am acquainted…as highly as any miniature on ivory.”