Monsieur Merlen

Monsieur Merlen

1861

Albumen print from wet collodion negative, uncut carte-de-visite proof print

Image: 19.9 x 23.1 cm (7 13/16 x 9 1/8 in.); Matted: 35.6 x 45.7 cm (14 x 18 in.)

Gift of Paula and Robert Hershkowitz in memory of Sam Wagstaff 1995.179

Description

A small photograph mounted on card stock, called a carte-de-visite, was patented by Disdéri in 1854. Used for images of both ordinary and famous people, it gave birth to the craze of collecting celebrity portraits. By 1862 Disdéri had 90 employees producing over 2,000 prints a day, making him reputedly the world’s richest photographer. In contrast with the daguerreotype medallion portrait, carte-de-visite prints were economical and inexpensive. A camera with four lenses and a sliding plate holder produced eight sequential exposures on a single glass negative. The resulting paper print was cut up and the individual images were mounted. This uncut sheet was probably a proof produced for the sitter’s approval.

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