Carleton Watkins                  Valparaíso 1850--New Directions



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or architecture during his far-flung travels in Chile, Bolivia and Peru between 1847 and 1850.[9]  Vance traveled through places that begged to be photographed, but he showed no interest in doing so.  Taking a daguereotype camera into the field to record the look of a city was an entirely new idea in Chile in 1849.

However, suddenly, and without any advance warning, a new practice emerged in Valparaíso, coincidental, we believe, with Carleton’s precocious decision to abandon the secure studio environment and venture into the field to establish a new direction in photography.  From the beginning of 1850 through early 1852, a number of exceptional daguerreotypes were created in Chile in two phases at times that jibe with Carleton Watkins’s presence there: Phase I from mid-1849 to mid-1850 during his first presumed stint there, and Phase II in 1852, when he returned to Chile from New York.[10]

The fact that the three now-lost daguerreotypes made in Valparaíso date from before August 1850 is known through Vance’s catalog description of them where their existence was first recorded.  Most of the Valparaíso daguerreotypes were lost and are today known only through written descriptions, engravings, or lithographs.  The surviving daguerreotypes, as well as those only known through circumstantial evidence are listed in the following tables in their relative order of creation:


The Outdoor Daguerreotype in Chile, 1850-1852


Table 1 

Daguerreotypes Owned by Robert Vance  


A.     Maker Unknown, Possibly Carleton Watkins. Vance Collection, no. 109.  Before August, 1850.  No visual record exists.

B.     Maker Unknown, Possibly Carleton Watkins. Vance Collection no. 130.  Before August 1850. No visual record exists.

C.     Maker Unknown, Possibly Carleton Watkins. Vance Collection, no. 131.  Before August, 1850.  No visual record exists.

[Fig. 1]




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[9] See Chapter Eight.

[10] Rasmussen, Louis J. San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists. Vol. 4. Colma, California: San Francisco Historical Records, 1966, p. 60, where Carleton was listed as a passenger on the ship Michel Angelo that landed at Valparaíso in April or May of 1852 en route from New York to San Francisco.