The Ellis Collection of Daguerreotypes of Italy

Ellis, Alexander John

This collection of 158 daguerreotypes of topographic and architectural views of Italy dates from 1840 - 1841 and are among the earliest known photographs of Italy. The collection was assembled by Alexander John Ellis and includes daguerreotypes taken by and under his direction. There are also daguerreotypes taken by Achille Morelli and Lorenzo Suscipi. They were created using the original daguerreotype method announced by Louis Daguerre in 1839. The dageurreotype collection is housed in a purpose-built cabinet that was donated with the daguerreotypes in 1890.

Accompanying the daguerreotypes are Alexander John Ellis’s handwritten notes on his daguerreotypes which detail the date, location and conditions from 1841. These notes were for a project in which he intended to use the daguerreotypes to prepare etchings to be published in a monthly periodical entitled “Italy Daguerreotyped: a collection of views, chiefly architectural, engraved after daguerreotypes in possession of the Editor”. However, the periodical was never published. In the same box as these original notes are some of the backing cards from daguerreotypes which have undergone conservation work.

There is a further box containing conservation notes and other removed materials such as mounts and nails.

There is also a box containing copy negatives, prints and an index for the negatives created by the Science Museum.


158 daguerreotypes in original cabinet, 1 box containing Ellis's photography notes, 1 box containing copy negatives, 1 box containing conservation materials
Photography, Topography, Architecture and Italy
Access is given in accordance with the NMeM access policy. Material from this collection is available to researchers through the museum’s Insight facility.
System of Arrangement:

Browse this archive