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Armand Hippolyte Fizeau
View From Window, 17, rue du Cherche-Midi, Paris
Daguerreotype, etched in acid for printing
2 x 3 1/8 in.
The Patrick Montgomery Collection, Object No. 2020.235
Notes: The French physicist Armand Hippolyte Louis Fizeau, perhaps best known for measuring the speed of light, was also at the center of a group of early photographic experimenters who attempted to reproduce the unique daguerreotype in ink by transforming the silvered copper plate into a printable, etched matrix. Fizeau worked with various engravers to develop his process, including Johan Hurlimann, Augustin-François Lemaître, and Louis-Henri Brévière. Brévière, a printer for the Imprimerie royale, is linked to Fizeau through a group of daguerreotypes and associated prints that were likely made at Fizeau’s residence at 17, rue du Cherche-Midi in Paris. This daguerreotype view over the neighboring rooftops is one of many related images that display traces of the chemical and physical experiments that ultimately resulted in the creation of an electroplated and engraved daguerreotype from which impressions were printed on paper. (source: Metropolitan Museum)
Fizeau was born in Paris to Louis and Beatrice Fizeau. He married into the de Jussieu botanical family. His earliest work was concerned with improvements in photographic processes including substituting bromine for the iodine used by Daguerre as well as a process for making engravings directly from daguerreotypes. Following suggestions by François Arago, Léon Foucault and Fizeau collaborated in a series of investigations on the interference of light and heat. In 1848, he predicted the redshifting of electromagnetic waves. In 1849, Fizeau calculated a value for the speed of light to a better precision than the previous value determined by Ole Rømer in 1676. In addition to the work on optics, Fizeau also established the velocity of electricity in wires, corresponding to one-third of the speed of light. He did valuable work in the development of induction coils, in the application of the Doppler effect in astronomy, and in the utilization of optical wavelengths for precision measurements. Fizeau never held professorships but was elected to the Academy of Sciences in 1860. He died after a long illness in Venteuil near Jouarre on Sept. 18, 1896.