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HomeContentsThemes > Photographing celebrities


800.01   Daguerreotypes: Celebrities
800.02   Mathew Brady's Studio photographs of Jenny Lind
800.03   Thomas Houseworth: Houseworth's Celebrities
800.04   Carte de visites: Celebrities
800.05   Giuseppe Garibaldi
800.06   Cabinet cards: Celebrities
800.07   Marketing: Photographing celebrities
800.08   Cabinet cards: Backs: Royal patronage
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated. 
Status: Collect > Document > Analyse > Improve
800.01   Marketing >  Daguerreotypes: Celebrities 
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The invention of photography brought fidelity to the portrait. Here in mercurial form was the mirror image of humanity with the flaws of the moment of capture. Celebrities of the age who had been seen in woodcuts, engravings, lithographs and paintings could now be posed, photographed and preserved. Their photographs were used as the basis for other forms of illustration and so the printed visage in magazines and books evolved in ever more realistic forms through the 1840s and 50s.  
Painting of Napoleon's Death Mask 
Lord Wellington 
For the first time we have the true features of notable figures recorded - politicians such as Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay and Lajos Kossuth, and abolitionist John Brown at the time a wool broker in Hartford CT. long before his attack on Harper's Ferry. Scientists such as James Hyatt inhaling chlorine, Samuel Morse of telegraph-fame, Michael Faraday who worked with electromagnetism and electrochemistry and Oliver Wendell Holmes who was a physician, writer and inventor of a popular stereoscope design. Military officers such as Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, who had been instrumental in the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, was photographed by Antoine Claudet in 1844. Sir John Franklin had his portrait taken along with some of his officers by Richard Beard before setting out in command of the ill-fated British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition (1845-1848). Travellers equipped with daguerreotype equipment supplemented their views of landscapes, cities and monuments with photographs of the noble classes such as the Hawaiian royal family.  
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Jenny Lind 
In the arts a drawing of the composer Chopin by George Sand was photographed by an unknown daguerreotypist and can be compared with a surviving daguerreotype portrait of Chopin in the collection of Musée de la musique. Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind, known as the "Swedish Nightingale" was photographed by the outstanding Boston photographers Southworth & Hawes and began a craze of the photography of opera stars that would continue through the nineteenth century. The popular authors of the day such as William Makepeace Thackeray, Hans Christian Andersen, Edgar Allen Poe, Alexandre Dumas and Nikolai Gogol were all photographed during the early years of photography.  
William Makepeace Thackeray 
Edgar Allen Poe 
Throughout history the famous have been recorded in painting, prints and sculpture to create a sense of national pride in material form. It was seen as the legacy of a nation to preserve portraits of the great and still is. Daguerreotypes came in different plate sizes and the largest commonly used was the whole plate at 6.5 x 8.5 ins (16.5 x 21.5 cm) which was not going to compete with a large painting on scale alone. Unless the daguerreotype was hand-coloured, it had an elusive silvery form rather than the richness of oil paint but it had distinct advantages. A daguerreotype was relatively quick to create as exposure times decreased and more importantly it captured the reality of the moment. 
800.02   Marketing >  Mathew Brady's Studio photographs of Jenny Lind 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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In September 1850 Swedish Opera singer Jenny Lind started on a tour of America promoted by P.T. Barnum. He promoted her so successfully that 40,000 people awaited the arrival of her ship in New York City. During her time in America she agreed to have daguerreotype portraits taken by Mathew Brady and the Musical Times of Saturday, October 19, 1850 described it:
She also objects to have her likeness exhibited; but this objection is overruled by Mr. Brady, the daguerreotypist, who shared with the sun the honour of having taken it, and on his part objects to be considered a humbug. Our meaning will be understood from the following :
Mdlle. Jenny Lind, who, in the first place, was averse to having her likeness taken, and, in the second, did not wish to have it exhibited, has permitted Mr. Brady to show it to the public, who have importuned him for the last week, many telling him it was all humbug, and that she did not sit for her likeness at all. On Monday there was a great rush to see it, and all who had seen her pronounced it to be an admirable likeness. It is a beautiful specimen of the perfection of the photogenic art. There were eight likenesses taken in all, and every one differed from the rest, so changeable is the expression of the countenance of the great cantatrice. There were three preserved, of which Mr. Brady has two, and one is in the possession of Jenny Lind herself. The two at Mr. Brady's gallery differ very much, one of them being far superior to the other. In looking at those likenesses of Jenny Lind, we saw some exquisite portraits done on ivory, which is a new invention of. Mr. Brady, and exceedingly creditable to him.[1]
800.03   Marketing >  Thomas Houseworth: Houseworth's Celebrities 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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800.04   Marketing >  Carte de visites: Celebrities 
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The standardized size of the carte de visite and its robust card-based format allowed for the first photograph albums that encouraged, indeed forced, a display on the pre-cut pages. All previous paper-based forms could be pasted into scrapbooks but carte de visite encouraged the creation of visual family histories and the collection of celebrities. Just as with earlier daguerreotypes of celebrities a similar range of personalities is shown.
Abraham Lincoln was collected and so was actor John Wilkes Booth who would assassinate him in Ford's Theatre in 1865.  
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Abraham Lincoln 
Mrs Lincoln & the Ghost of a Spirit [Spirit photograph] 
John Wilkes Booth 
British Prime Ministers William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli have the rigid poses that remind one of busts and full length sculptures.  
British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) 
British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield (1804-1881) 
In an age of the printed word authors and poets were popular and Alfred Tennyson, Henry Wordsworth Longfellow, Charles Dickens, Washington Irving and Hans Christian Andersen are all found on carte de visites.  
Lord Alfred Tennyson 
Charles Dickens 
The nineteenth century was the age of colonial empires and explorers such as Henry Morton Stanley led expeditions into Africa that would result in King Leopold's brutal control of the Congo.  
Henry Morton Stanley 
Carte de visite portraits of celebrities were collected like the cigarette cards, bubble-gum cards and sports cards that would follow. Vast numbers of carte de visite of celebrities were produced and a contemporary account from March 1862 hints at the scale of the craze:
The commercial value of the human face was never tested to such an extent as it is at the present moment in these handy photographs. No man, or woman either, knows but that some accident may elevate them to the position of the hero of the hour and send up the value of their countenances to a degree they never dreamed of.... a new source of income has been opened to first-rate photographers, besides the profit arising from taking portraits. A wholesale trade has sprung up with amazing rapidity, and to obtain a good sitter, and his permission to sell his carte de visite, is in itself an annuity to a man…. The public is little aware of the enormous sale of the cartes de visite of celebrated persons. An order will be given by a wholesale house for 10,000 of one individual—thus 400 pounds will be put into the lucky photographer’s pocket who happens to possess the negative… the Royal Family. Her Majesty’s portrait, which Mr. Mayall alone has taken, sell by the 100,000. …the Prince consort…no less than 70,000 ordered from the house of Marion & Co., of Regent street. This house is by far the greatest dealer in cartes de visite in the country.[2]
By owning a carte de visite of Kit Carson or Admiral Dot one's association with celebrity was brought closer in much the same way that friending a celebrity on Facebook does today. It is a symbol of a real or imagined relationship. 
   Carte de visite Celebrities 
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800.05   Marketing >  Giuseppe Garibaldi 
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Giuseppe Garibaldi[3] was the hero of the Italian Risorgimento (1849-1871) which was in need of a popular hero and he was perfect for the part. In the following account from 1866 we get a sense of the cult of personality that surrounded him on his travels to secure the Unification of Italy. Photography played a part in the the promotion of his personality and resolve.[4]
Photography And Garibaldi. Mr. G. A. Sala, in a recent letter in the Telegraph, has a graphic word-photograph on Garibaldi, in commenting on the sun-pictures of the Italian hero. He says: "Photography has not done him justice. The sun, like calumny and the calumniator's favourite weapon, the frying-pan, blackens all with whom his rays, through the medium of the camera, come in contact. In the cartes de visite Garibaldi looks sombre, meagre, and worn. I was surprised to see a hearty, jovial man, with a great blonde beard. But for the eyeglass he used, and the stick he carried, there were no traces visible of the waves of time which have dashed against him, or of the cruel bullet which struck him at Aspromonte. He gave me his hand, and a hearty, sailor-like grip into the bargain; and if it be snobbish to have wished to kiss that horny paw, I am glad to have been, for once in my life at all events, a snob most egregious. A thousand times must it have been remarked in print that the aspect of Garibaldi is as that of a Lion. But no other simile will serve. ' Sorriso di madre, riguardo di leone,' the Italians say of him. His port and mien are, of a truth, thoroughly leonine ; but the ' sorriso di madre,' the ' mother's smile,' comes ever him when he converses familiarly, when he calls to some member of his staff, or, best of all, when he sees the boy volunteers, the hope and promise of Italy, passing before him. And there surely was never a countenance so thoroughly translucent, and from whose eyes there beamed so strongly the light of tho soul within the soul of a just and upright man, quietly striving to do his duty."[5]
800.06   Marketing >  Cabinet cards: Celebrities 
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The cabinet card, which is essentially a larger carte de visite, was introduced in 1863 was a 4 x 5 1/2 inch photograph affixed to a 4 1/2 x 6 1/2 inch card stock. It prolonged the collecting of card-based photographs until snapshot photography came in during the 1890s and in some countries cabinet cards continued until after the First World War (1914-1918). As with earlier forms of photography, particularly carte de visites, celebrities of the day were widely collected.
Once again authors and poets were well represented with Oscar Wilde, Tolstoy, Mark Twain and Victor Hugo. Cards of those who had carried out heroic deeds such as William Frederick Cody, perhaps better known as Buffalo Bill, Roald Amundsen for his trek to the South Pole, Baden Powell well known throughout the British Empire for holding Mafeking during the Second Boer War and around the world for founding the Boy Scouts movement were purchased. Popular entertainers such as tightrope walker Charles Blondin, actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Lilly Langtry toured widely and were celebrities of the age. 
   Cabinet cards Celebrities 
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800.07   Marketing >  Marketing: Photographing celebrities 
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800.08   Marketing >  Cabinet cards: Backs: Royal patronage 
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  1. Λ Saturday, October 19, 1850, "Jenny Lind in New York", The Musical World, vol. 25, no. 42, p. 671 
  2. Λ A. Wynter, 1 March 1862, "Cartes-de-Visite.", Saturday Evening Post, p. 3. [From Once a Week]. 
  3. Λ Wladimiro Settimelli, 1982, Garibaldi: L'Album Fotografico, (Alinari) 
  4. Λ Lucy Riall, 2007, Garibaldi: Invention of a Hero, (Yale University Press). Yale University Press book description:
    Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian revolutionary leader and popular hero, was among the best-known figures of the nineteenth century. This book seeks to examine his life and the making of his cult, to assess its impact, and understand its surprising success.
    For thirty years Garibaldi was involved in every combative event in Italy. His greatest moment came in 1860, when he defended a revolution in Sicily and provoked the collapse of the Bourbon monarchy, the overthrow of papal power in central Italy, and the creation of the Italian nation state. It made him a global icon, representing strength, bravery, manliness, saintliness, and a spirit of adventure. Handsome, flamboyant, and sexually attractive, he was worshiped in life and became a cult figure after his death in 1882.
    Lucy Riall shows that the emerging cult of Garibaldi was initially conceived by revolutionaries intent on overthrowing the status quo, that it was also the result of a collaborative effort involving writers, artists, actors, and publishers, and that it became genuinely and enduringly popular among a broad public. The book demonstrates that Garibaldi played an integral part in fashioning and promoting himself as a new kind of “charismatic” political hero. It analyzes the way the Garibaldi myth has been harnessed both to legitimize and to challenge national political structures. And it identifies elements of Garibaldi’s political style appropriated by political leaders around the world, including Mussolini and Che Guevara.
  5. Λ The Photographic News, June 29, 1866, pp. 311-312.


HomeContentsPhotographers > Photographers worth investigating

Mathew B. Brady  (1823-1896) • W. & D. Downey • Southworth & Hawes
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Thumbnail19th Century Photographic Studios: Marketing 
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Improved (October 28, 2010) I've added in touting for business by leaving examples of work at hotels (Taber) and touters at the docks for creating paintings based on photographs in China as described by John Thomson in Illustrations of China and Its People... (1873-1874).

HomeVisual indexes > Photographing celebrities

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ThumbnailThomas Houseworth: Houseworth's Celebrities 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailMarketing: Photographing celebrities 
Refreshed: 19 January 2015, 00:54
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