Carte de visite photographs

DEFINITION

Small albumen prints mounted on cards 2-1/2 by 4 inches, which were wildly popular and made for decades in countries around the world. The format was an international standard; for the first time, relatives and friends could exchange portraits, knowing they would find a place in the recipient's family album--whether that album was located in Brooklyn, Berlin or Brazil. In addition, unlike earlier photographs made with such processes as the daguerreotype and ambrotype, cartes de visite could be sent through the mail without the need for a bulky case and fragile cover-glass. Their small size also made them relatively inexpensive, and they became so widespread that by 1863 Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes would write, "Card portraits, as everybody knows, have become the social currency, the 'green-backs' of civilization." The vast majority of cartes depict individuals or couples posed in the studio; the small size of the format appears to leave little room for more complex subject matter. But perhaps out of necessity (for example, a frontier photographer limited to a single camera), cartes de visite were also made of groups and landscapes and even as pioneering examples of photojournalism. Sometimes it seems as if the early photographers who made these small images were trying to capture the world around them on a tiny patch of paper and cardboard. Judging their work more than a century later, it can be argued that in many cases they succeeded. Source: The American Museum of Photography. Submitted by M.D. Silverbrooke, Art Historian and Collector, West Vancouver, British Columbia

Your data and time are valuable. There's a new web browser that considers your time and security as a top priority.

Download Brave Browser For Free!

Brave uses the latest in blockchain technology.

This ensures a higher quality and more secure experience. Learn more about this fantastic breakthrough.

Loads Content Up To 8X Faster

Because Brave blocks unwanted tracking scripts that run in the background, your browsing speed will be unparalleled.

Ultimate in Privacy & Security

Brave fights malware and prevents tracking, keeping your information safe and secure.