Joseph Berres’s Phototyp

Printing Photography in the Service of Science


  • Martin Jürgens
  • Ioannis Vasallos
  • Lénia Fernandes



Following Alfred Donné in Paris, the Austrian Joseph Berres was the second person in history to convert unique daguerreotypes into intaglio printing plates by etching them in acid and then printing them in ink on paper. Berres’s experiments culminated in the booklet Phototyp nach der Erfindung des Professors Berres in Wien (1840), which is considered the first photomechanically illustrated publication. Today, Phototyp is recognized as a key work in the pioneering combination of photography and traditional printmaking as a means of disseminating visual information in the mid-nineteenth century. In this study, the four prints in the Rijksmuseum’s copy of Phototyp, one of only three known remaining copies worldwide, were compared to prints found in other collections. The survey revealed that far fewer prints exist today than were originally produced. The Rijksmuseum prints were also analysed by microscopy and both X-ray and Infrared Spectroscopy. These findings were helpful in the ensuing re-creation of Berres’s process using newly made daguerreotypes. In practical terms, Berres’s process turned out to be far more complex to carry out than his recipes implied. Nevertheless, this endeavour resulted in a better understanding of the materials and methods involved, knowledge that may help in identifying more Berres prints in other collections in the future.


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Author Biographies

Martin Jürgens

Martin Jürgens is conservator of photographs at the Rijksmuseum and has an MA in conservation from Queen’s University. His research, publishing and teaching have covered historic and contemporary photography and digital printing.

Ioannis Vasallos

Ioannis Vasallos is conservator of the National Library of Scotland’s Photographic Collections. He has an MA in conservation from the University of the Arts London. He previously worked at the Rijksmuseum and the National Galleries of Scotland.

Lénia Fernandes

Lénia Fernandes works as conservator of photographs at the Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam. She has an MA in conservation from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and previously worked at the Rijksmuseum.




How to Cite

Jürgens, Martin, Ioannis Vasallos, and Lénia Fernandes. 2018. “Joseph Berres’s Phototyp: Printing Photography in the Service of Science”. The Rijksmuseum Bulletin 66 (2):144-69.