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Source: Oxford University Press

Art form that was first popularized by the Parisian photographer André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri in the later 1850s. Typically a carte-de-visite was a full-length portrait in the form of an albumen print pasted on to a mount the size of a visiting card. During the 1860s they became immensely popular, and a craze developed for collecting cartes of celebrities of the day as well as of family and friends. Cartes of fashionable personalities such as the British Royal family sold in thousands. The portraits were usually made using multiple-lens cameras taking several pictures simultaneously or with single lens cameras taking successive images on a single plate start( below)end. Cheap viewers containing a single magnifying lens were popular for viewing cartes. The fashion also created a demand for albums, often elaborately decorated, which contained pages of stiff cards cut with appropriate apertures to hold cartes. Many such Victorian albums survive in public and private collections. Although they remained popular until World War I, waning demand in the later 1860s prompted the introduction of the cabinet card.

© 2009 Oxford University Press


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