History of Photography

History of Photography

A World History of Photography

The Story Behind the Pictures 1827-1991

Photographers' Dictionary
































Chapter 2



LEWIS CARROLL (collection)
ETIENNE CARJAT (collection)
David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson (collection)
Nadar  (collection)







Camera Portraits in Asia

The introduction of portrait photography in the Far East coincided with changes from insular traditionalism to the acceptance of modern ideas in science, symbolized by the 1854 American diplomatic ultimatum that Japan be opened to the West; indeed, the ideographs used to denote photograph in Japanese (shashin) literally mean "copy truth." The first portrait daguerreotypes made in that country appear to be those by Eliphalet Brown, Jr., American artist and photographer attached to Commodore Matthew Perry's expedition to Japan, but experimentation with the daguerreotype process had been going on since 1848 when a Nagasaki merchant imported the first camera.

However, successful daguerreotypes by Japanese photographers were not made until 1857, only a year before the first collodion portraits by a Japanese photographer. As shown in a woodblock print of 1861, French Couple with a Camera (pi. no. 72), photographers working in Japan during the early period were foreigners who not only provided views and portraits but taught the process to the Japanese. Apparently by the mid- to late-'70s they were so successful that professional studios were opened in all the major cities of Japan, with more than 100 in the Tokyo area alone; even the unapproachable royal family permitted members to sit for camera likenesses.

Although China remained isolated from Western ideas of progress longer than Japan, photographers from the West began to make portraits there, too, during the 1860s. Among the succession of foreigners, Milton Miller, a Californian who ran a studio in Hong Kong in the early 1860s, made formally posed yet sensitive portraits of Cantonese merchants, Mandarins, and their families, while the Scottish photographer John Thomson photographed workers and peasants as well, including their portraits in his ambitious four-volume work Illustrations of China and Its People, published in England in 1873/74. It is thought that native Chinese photographers were introduced to photography when they were employed during the 1850s as copyists and colorists in the Hong Kong studios run by foreigners, but while some 20 native studios with Chinese names are known, little else has been discovered about these portraists. The studio of Afong Lai appears to have been the most stable of the native-owned commercial enterprises, lasting from 1859 on into the 20th century and with the artistry of its work acclaimed by Thomson.

On the Indian subcontinent, however, photography in all its varieties, including portraiture, was promoted by the British occupying forces and eagerly taken up by Indian businessmen and members of the ruling families. Commercial firms owned by Indian photographers, individuals appointed by the courts, and those working in bazaars began to appear in large cities after the 1860s in order to supply the British and Indian ruling class with images of themselves. The most renowned enterprise was that started by Lala Deen Dayal, owner of studios in Indore, Bombay, and Hyderabad from the 1880s on, who became court photographer to the nizam of Hyderabad. Many portraits made in India during this period were painted over in the traditional decorative style of Indian miniatures, just as in the West painted camera portraits were treated naturalistically. This attitude toward the photographic portrait in India has led to the suggestion that the camera itself was used in a different fashion than in the West, that Indian photographers were somehow able to avoid the representation of space and dimensionality even before die paint was added. However, allowing for obvious differences in pose, dress, and studio decor, Indian photographic portraits that were not painted over do not seem remarkably different from the general run of commercial portraiture elsewhere.

French Couple with a Camera Color woodblock print.
Agfa-Gevaert Foto-Historama, Cologne, Germany.


The Portrait as Personal Expression

Alongside the likenesses produced by commercial studios, a more intimate style of portraiture developed in the work of amateurs-—men and women in mostly comfort-able circumstances who regarded photography as an agreeable pastime but did not make their living from it. During the 1860s and '70s this group—which included Olympe Count Aguado and Paul Gaillard on the Continent and Julia Margaret Cameron, Lewis Carroll, Cosmo Innes, and Clementina, Lady Hawarden, in Britain-—used the collodion process to portray family and associates, at times in elaborately casual poses, in actual domestic interiors and real gardens. When Carroll photographed his artistic and intellectual friends and their children, he favored the discreet and harmonious arrangements seen in his grouping of the Liddell sisters—Edith, Lorina, and Alice (pi. no. 73). At the same time, his stress on the virginal beauty of these young sitters (also evident in his nude photos, pl. no. 334) reflects an ambivalence that embraced ideals of feminine innocence and his own deep-seated sexual needs.

Cameron, the most widely known Victorian portraitist (usually considered an amateur even though she sold and exhibited her work), also used the camera to idealize her subjects. Seeking out men and women whose individuality or impressive artistic and literary contributions appeared to her to redeem the materialism of the time, she importuned them to pose so that she might record, in her words, "faithfully, the greatness of the inner as well as the features of the outer man." Avoiding sharp focus, she concentrated on the evocative handling of light, seen at its most effective in portraits of Sir John Herschel—a family friend of many years (pi. no. 74)—and of her niece Julia Jackson, who had just wed Herbert Duckworth and was to be the mother of novelist Virginia Woolf (pi. no. 75).

Cameron's work, like that of Carroll, can be related to the Pre-Raphaelite search for ideal types, but her portrait style especially seems to have been inspired by the paintings of her artistic mentor, George Frederic Watts, which in turn reflected die taste among the British intelligentsia for Rembrandt-like chiaroscuro effects in the treatment of

form. Critical reaction from Cameron's contemporaries was divided; while art critics for the general press and a number of photographers in England and abroad approved of her approach, the medium's most vocal propo-nents of art photography criticized the "slovenly manipulation" and regarded her work as "altogether repulsive."

Newly emerging scientific ideas provided still other uses for the photographic portrait during the collodion era. Aside from the documentation of strictly medical problems (skin lesions, hydrocephalism, etc.), the camera was called upon to document psychological reactions and mental aberrations. Dr. Hugh Welch Diamond, who be-came interested in the calotypc shortly after the announcement of Talbot's discovery, was one of the first to advocate such scientific documentation. After he was introduced to collodion by Archer—a former patient—he used the new technology to photograph female inmates in the Surrey Count}' Asylum (pi. nos. 76-77), where he was superintendent. In a paper read to the Royal Society in 1856, Dr. Diamond outlined the relationship of photography to psychiatry, suggesting that portraits were useful in diagnosis, as treatment, and for administrative identification of the patients. In The Physiognomy of Insanity, illustrated with engravings based on Dr. Diamond's likenesses, physiognomic theories that had related photography to the depiction of normal character were extended to embrace the mentally abnormal.

Fleeting facial expressions were photographed in 1853 by Adrien Tournachon (brother of Felix) for a work on human physiognomy by the noted Dr. Guillaume Benjamin Duchenne de Boulogne, the founder of electrotherapy, and in 1872 Charles Darwin chose to use photographs to illustrate The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, for which he approached Rcjlander. In addition to images supplied by Duchenne, and by two lesser-known figures, the book included a series showing emotional states, and for five of them Rejlander himself posed as model (pi. nos. 78-79). Despite the theatricality of a number of the expressions depicted in these portraits, the use of the camera image in this capacity relegated to a minor role the traditional graphic conventions for portraying the human passions.

In the 30 years following the discovery of photography, the camera portrait occupied center stage. Images on metal, glass, and paper provided likenesses for large numbers of people—the newly affluent as well as many who formerly could not have imagined commissioning a painted portrait. Many of these images can be regarded today as no more than "archeological relics," but in their time they served to make generations of sitters more aware of their position in society and of themselves as individuals, even when they glossed over physiological and psychological

frailties. In addition, photographs taken at various stages of life—youth, middle age, and elderly—made people more conscious of mortality and their relationship to ephemeral time. The cult of individualism also was promoted by the practice of publishing and selling likenesses of famous persons. With the image as a surrogate, more people were made to feel closer to political and cultural figures, even while the likenesses themselves emphasized distinctiveness. On the whole, the general run of commercial camera portraiture is quickly exhausted in terms of insight or aesthetic interest, yet in the hands of creative individuals (both amateur and professional), among them Southworth and Hawes, Hill and Adamson, Cameron, Carroll, and Nadar, portraits seemed to distill an artistic ideal while still probing individual personality. The importance of studio portraiture was diminished by the invention of new cameras and technologies that permitted people to make likenesses of family and friends at home, but the portrait itself—as a mirror of personality, as an artistic artifact, and as an item of cultural communication—has remained an intriguing challenge to photographers.

73. LEWIS CARROLL (REV. CHARLES L. DODGSON). Edith, Lorina, and Alice Liddell, c. 1859.
Albumen print. Photography Collection, Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin.

Lewis Carroll  (see collection)

Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
(27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898), better known by the pen name Lewis Carroll, was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican clergyman and photographer.

His most famous writings are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass as well as the poems "The Hunting of the Snark" and "Jabberwocky", all considered to be within the genre of literary nonsense.

His facility at word play, logic, and fantasy has delighted audiences ranging from children to the literary elite, and beyond this his work has become embedded deeply in modern culture, directly influencing many artists.

LEWIS CARROLL. Edith, Lorina and Alice Liddell



LEWIS CARROLL. Alice Liddell, 1959


LEWIS CARROLL. Alice Liddell


LEWIS CARROLL. Alice Liddell, 1858


LEWIS CARROLL. Alice Liddell, 1870


74. JULIA MARGARET CAMERON. Sir John Herschel, April, 1867.
Albumen print. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Gift of Mrs. J. D. Cameron Bradley.

75 JULIA MARGARET CAMERON. My Niece Julia Jackson, 1867.
Albumen print. National Portrait Gallery, London.

Julia Margaret Cameron   (see collection)

Inmates of Surrey County Asylum, 1852. Albumen prints. Royal Photographic Society, Bath, England.

Inmates of Surrey County Asylum, 1852. Albumen prints.
Royal Photographic Society, Bath, England.

Dr Hugh Welch Diamond
(1809 – June 21, 1886)

was one of the earliest photographers, and made a major contribution to the progress of the craft.
A doctor by profession, he opened private practice in Soho, London, and then decided to specialise in the treatment of mental patients, being appointed to Bethelhem Hospital, the Surrey County Asylum. Diamond was one of the founders of the Photographic Society, was later its Secretary and also became the editor of the Photographic Journal.
He used photography to treat mental disorders; some of his many calotypes depicting the expressions of people suffering from mental disorders are particularly moving. These were used not only for record purposes, but also, he claimed in the treatment of patients, although there is little evidence of success.
Perhaps it is for his attempts to popularize photography and to lessen its mystique that Diamond is best remembered. He wrote many articles and was a popular lecturer, and he also sought to encourage younger photographers. Among the latter was Henry Peach Robinson, who was later to refer to Diamond as a "father figure" of photography.
Recognition for his encouragement and for his willingness to share his knowledge came in 1855, in the form of a testimonial amounting to 300 for services to photography; among those who subscribed were such people as Delamotte, Fenton and George Shadbolt. In 1867, the Photographic Society awarded its Medal in recognition of "his long and successful labours as one of the principal pioneers of the photographic art and of his continuing endeavours for its advancement." The following year, at his own initiative, he relinquished any further salary as Secretary of the Society, and became its Hon. Secretary.

DR. HUGH WELCH DIAMOND. Seated Woman, 1855; Woman with hair standing on end, 1850-1859; Roger Fenton, 1856


78. OSCAR GUSTAV REJLANDER, GUILLAUME BENJAMIN DUCHENNE DE BOULOGNE. Illustrations for The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, by Charles Darwin, 1872. Heliotypes. Photography Collection, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.

Illustrations for The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, by Charles Darwin, 1872. Heliotypes. Photography Collection, The New York Public Library,
Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.


see also: Duchenne de Boulogne. Contractions musculaires, 1856
Guillaume Benjamin Amand Duchenne

David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson  (see collection)

At his death in 1870, David Octavius Hill was mourned for being a deeply religious but blithe spirit who had devoted his life to improving the arts in Scotland. An unexceptional though competent painter of the Scottish countryside (pi. no. 80), Hill played an important role in the cultural life of Edinburgh. He was born into a family of booksellers and publishers in Perth and learned lithography early in his career, publishing, in 1821, the first lithographic views of Scotland in Sketches of Scenery in Perthshire. In association with other artists who were dissatisfied with the leadership of the Royal Institution, Hill established the Scottish Academy in 1829, and remained connected with it in unpaid and, later, official capacity until his death. By the 1830s, Hill's interest turned to narrative illustration; among his works were lithographs for The Glasgow and Garnkirk Railway Prospectus, The Waverly Novels, and The Works of Robert Burns.

Involvement in the Scottish Disruption Movement, which led to the establishment of the Free Church of Scotland and independence from the Church of England, inspired in Hill a wish to commemorate this event in a painting of the clergymen who took part in the dispute. Introduced by Sir David Brewster to Robert Adamson (pi. no. 81), through whom he became aware of Talbot's process, Hill planned to use photography as an aid in painting the likenesses of the 400 members of the Disruption Movement. In 1843 he entered into a partnership with Adamson, about whom relatively little is known, to produce calotypes in a studio at Rock House, Calton Hill, Edinburgh, and

sometimes on location. In their joint work, each man provided an element missing in the other. Before 1843, Adamson's work was wanting in composition and lighting, while, on the evidence of work done with another collaborator some 14 years after Adamson's premature death, Hill lacked sensitivity and skill in handling the camera. During the partnership, Hill energetically organized the sittings for his proposed painting, but as the two partners became more deeply involved with the medium, they calotvped subjects, persons, and landscape views that had no relation to the Disruption painting, producing between 1843 and 1848 about 2,500 separate calotypes. Unfortunately, Hill discovered that many of the negatives tended to fade, a circumstance that along with Adamson's death seemed to make further involvement in photography unattractive.

After 1848, Hill continued to use photographs as studies for his paintings and to sell individual calotypes from his brother's print shop, while devoting time to the affairs of the Scottish Academy and other local art associations. Following a second marriage in 1862 and the unsuccessful attempt to photograph in collodion with another partner, Hill returned to the Disruption painting, completing it in 1866. Compared with the vitality and expressiveness of the calotype studies, the painted figures are unconvincing and seem to exist without air or space; the picture, however, was greeted with kindness, and Hill's last photographic project involved an endeavor to make photographic facsimiles of this work. Had he not become involved with photography, it is unlikely that Hill would have merited more than a footnote in the history of the arts of the 19th centurv.

80. DAVID OCTAVIUS HILL. On the Quay at Leith, 1826.
Oil on wood. Scottish National Portrait GaUery, Edinburgh.

81. DAVID OCTAVIUS HILL. Robert Adamson, c. 1843.
Calotype. Gemsheim Collection, Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin.

Julia Margaret Cameron   (see collection)

One of seven daughters of a prosperous British family stationed in India, Julia Margaret Pattle was regarded by friends as generous, impulsive, enthusiastic, and imperious—"a unique figure, baffling beyond description." Educated in England and France after the death of her parents, she returned to India and in 1838 married Charles Hay Cameron, an eminent jurist and classical scholar, who invested his fortune in coffee plantations in Ceylon. In the ten years prior to their return to England, Mrs. Cameron assumed the social leadership of the Anglo-Indian colony, raised money for victims of the Irish Famine, and translated the well-known German ballad Lenore, but her boundless energy craved even greater challenges.

After settling in Freshwater, on the Isle of Wight, Cameron, using a camera given her by her daughter in 1863, embarked on a career in photography, concentrating on portraits and allegorical subjects. Models, at times paid but mainly importuned, were drawn from among her family; the household staff at the Cameron residence, Dimbola; and the households and visitors to the homes of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and Sara Prinsep, Cameron's sister. These were many of the most famous figures in British artistic and literary circles, including Thomas Carlyle, Darwin, Herschel, Marie Spartali, Ellen Terry, and Watts, but the photographer also was interested in portraying the unrenowned as long as she found them beautiful or fall of character. Besides hundreds of idealized portraits, she created allegorical and religious subjects, particularly of angels (pi. no. 82) and the Madonna, which emphasized motherhood. Because of her disappointment with the poor quality of the woodcut transcriptions of Tennyson's Idylls of the King, Cameron raised money to issue two editions that were photographically illustrated.

Cameron's attitude toward photography was that of a typical upper-class "amateur" of the time. She refused to consider herself a professional, although the high cost of practicing the medium led her to accept payment for portraits on occasion and to market photographic prints through P. and D. Colnaghi, London printsellers. They often bore the iegend: "From Life. Copyright Registered Photograph. Julia Margaret Cameron," to which she sometimes added that they were unretouched and not enlarged. Her work was shown at annual exhibitions of the Photographic Society of London and in Edinburgh, Dublin, London, Paris, and Berlin; at the latter it was acclaimed by Hermann Wilhelm Vogel and awarded a gold medal in 1866. In 1875, the Camerons returned to Ceylon, where for the three years before her death she continued to photograph, using native workers on the plantations and foreign visitors as models.


82. JULIA MARGARET CAMERON. The Rising of the New Tear, 1872.
Albumen print. Private Collection.


Profile: Nadar  (see collection)

In many ways Nadar (Gaspard Felix Tournachon) (pi. no.84) typifies the best qualities of the bohemian circle of writers and artists that settled in Paris during the Second Empire. Born into a family of printer tradespeople of radical leanings, young Nadar became interested in many of the era's most daring ideas in politics, literature, and science. After an ordinary middle-class education and a brief stab at medical school, he turned to journalism, first wring theater reviews and then literary pieces. Although a career in literature seemed assured, he gave up writing in 1848 to enlist in a movement to free Poland from foreign oppressors, an adventure that ended suddenly when he WAS captured and returned to Paris. There followed a period of involvement with graphic journalism, during which he created cartoons and caricatures of well-known political and cultural figures for the satirical press. This culminated in the Pantheon Nadar (pi. no. 83), a lithographic depiction of some 300 members of the French intelligentsia. Only mildly successful financially, it mack Nadar an immediate celebrity; more important, it introduced him to photography, from which he had drawn some of the portraits.

In 1853, Nadar set up his brother Adrien as a photographer and took lessons himself, apparently with the intention of joining him in the enterprise. However, despite the evident sensitivity of Adnen's portrait of the sculptor Ernile Blavier (pi. no. 85), his lack of discipline is believed to have caused Nadar to open a studio on his own, moving eventually to the Boulevard des Capucines (pi. no. 86), the center of the entertainment district. He continued his bohemian life, filling the studio with curiosities and objets d'art and entertaining personalities in the arts and literature, but despite this flamboyant personal style he remained a serious artist, intent on creating images that were both life-enhancing and discerning.

Ever open to new ideas and discoveries, Nadar was the first in France to make photographs underground with artificial light and the first to photograph Paris from the basket of an ascendant balloon. Even though a proponent of heavier-than-air traveling devices, he financed the construction of Le Geant, a balloon that met with an un-fortunate accident on its second trip. Nonetheless, he was instrumental in setting up the balloon postal service that made it possible for the French government to communicate with those in Paris during the German blockade in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

Ruined financially by this brief but devastating conflict, Nadar continued to write and photograph, running an establishment with his son Paul that turned out slick commercial work. Always a rebel, at one point he lent the recently vacated photo studio to a group of painters who wished to bypass the Salon in order to exhibit their work, thus making possible the first group exhibition of the Impressionists in April, 1874. Although he was to operate still another studio in Marseilles during the 1880s and '90s, Nadar's last photographic idea of significance was a series of exposures made by his son in 1886 as he interviewed chemist Eugene Chevreul on his 100th birthday, thus fore-shadowing the direction that picture journalism was to take. During his last years he continued to think of himself as "a daredevil, always on the lookout for currents to swim against." At his death, just before the age of ninety, he had outlived all those he had satirized in the famous Pantheon, which had started him in photography.

83. NADAR (GASPARD FELIX TOURKACHON). Pantheon Nadar, 1854.
 Lithograph. Bibliotheque Nationalc, Paris.

84. NADAR (GASPARD FELIX TOURNACHON). Self-Portrait, c. 1855.
Salt print. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

85. ADRIEN TOURNACHON. Emile Blavier, c. 1853.
Albumen print. Bibliotheque Nationalc, Paris.

86. UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER (French). Facade of Nadar's Studio at 35 Boulevard des Capucines,
Paris, after 1880. Albumen print. Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

The Galerie Contemporaine-Appearance and Character in 19th-century Portraiture

The Galerie Contemporaine, a series of 241 portraits of celebrated artistic, literary, and political figures in France during the Second Empire and Third French Republic, was issued in Paris between the years 1876 and 1894. A different portrait, accompanied by biographical text, appeared each week from 1876 to 1880; after that the album became an annual devoted almost exclusively to those in the mainstream pictorial arts. The images were the work of some 28 photographers who operated studios in Paris during this period; they were published in different sizes, depending on the dimensions of the original negative or plate, and usually were presented within a decorative border. Because in some cases they were taken long before they were used in the Galerie, the individual portraits are difficult to date. Whether these photographs were produced by carbon process or Woodburytype has not been definitively established, but the fact that the publisher, Goupil et Cie., had purchased a franchise for the Woodburytype process in France some years earlier suggests that the images were made by this method.

In this selection, portraits by noted photographers Etienne Carjat (pi. no. 87) and Nadar exemplify the pictorial excellence possible through adroit manipulation of pose, demeanor, and lighting, while the image by Tourtin (pi. no. 88) indicates that the work of little-known portraitists included in this ambitious publication also achieved a high level of excellence.


Etienne Carjat   (see collection)

87. TTITNNT CARJAT. Alexandre Dumas, from Galerie Contemporaine, 1878.
Woodburytype. Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.


88. TOURTIN. Sarah Bernhardt, from Galerie Contemporaine, 1877.
Woodburytype. International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.


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