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John William Draper
3 1/4 ◊ 2 3/4 ◊ 3/16 in. (8.3 ◊ 7 ◊ 0.5 cm)
Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York University Archives, New York (MC298, object 192)
Draper, a physician and professor of chemistry at New York University, was the first to produce a successful daguerreotype of the moon. On March 16, 1840, he wrote in his laboratory notebook, "This evening I exposed a prepared plate to the moonbeams which had been conveyed by a double convex lens." In this plate, a halo-like vignette encircles the image of the moon, creating a crescent shape that evokes the lunar phases. Despite his accomplishment, Draperís efforts received only modest recognition from his contemporaries; until recently his lunar daguerreotypes were believed to be lost.