Carte de Visite: People's Portraits in the Late 19C to Early 20C

by Machiko Kusahara

Having one's own portrait to be painted by a professional painter used
to be the luxury of the rich. After Daguerre announced his invention of
photography in 1839, silver shining Daguerreotype images replaced
painted portraits. When Disderi invented a system to effectively produce
a series of small photo in 1854, having one's photographic CDV (cartes
des visite) and exchanging it with friends became a great fashion.

Already by 1860s, CDV became the most popular form of having one's own
portrait. Members of Japan's first official mission to Europe in1862 visited photo
studios in major European cities such as Paris, Berlin and Saint Petersburg,
to have their CDV made. They were excited with the amazingly realistic portrait
that can be made in such a short time, but they soon ran out of their CDV, and
had to make new cards. Apparently they maintained the "Edo-spirit" during
the trip - the lifestyle to be curious and try anything new and fashionable.

This is a relatively early CDV of a man, marked 1866, which I found in Germany.



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