National Photography Industries: France


Figure 1.--Here we see two children holding a CDV album. Virtually every middle-class family had albums like this. Notice thast there were two CDVs per page. The portrait is undated, but we would guess the early-1870s. The portrait was taken at the Edouard Lamaury studio in Gisors.

The important early work in photography was done in France and England. French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce is credited with the achievement of creating the first permanent photograp (1826). And Daguerrotype is credited with creating the first commercial process (1839). Curiously the photographic record until the development of the CDV, another French innoivation, is very limited. There are very large numbers of American Daguerrotyoes and Ambrotypes from the1840s, but we have been able to find very few French images. We think copyright law prevented the rapid spread of the industry and kept prices high. With the CDV we finally begin to see large numbers of French images. We have not yet assessed French portrait types and how they compared with similar types in other countries. We have not yet found French Daguerreotypes and Ambrotypes. We know they existed, but were done in far fewer numbers than in America. We note large numbers of CDVs that look similar to American and other European CDVs. We are not yet sure about cabinet cards as we have so few examples. We do note cabinet cards being dome as late as 1940. They disappeared earlier in other countries. We do not notice them after World War II. Nor have we been able to assess the styles of paper frame portraits. Postcards were very popular in France. We note both commercial post cards and postcard-back snap shots. France had a very large commercial postcard industry. We know less about the postcard-back snapshots at this time.

History

The important early work in photography was done in France and England. French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce is credited with the achievement of creatingh the first permanent photograp (1826). He produced photographic images on polished pewter plate which he covered with a petroleum derivative called bitumen of Judea. The bitumen hardened when exposed to light. The unhardened material which were the dark areas of an image could then be washed away. The polished metal plate was a negative. Niépce produced a positive print by coating the pewter plare with ink and pressing it on paper. Next Niépce began experimenting with iron compounds. He had read about Johann Heinrich Schultz work with iron and chalk mixture that darkened when exposed to light (1724). Niépce (in Chalon-sur-Saône) began working with and Louis Daguerre (in Paris). Together they refined the silver process. Hercules Florence, a French-Brazilian painter and inventor, invented a silver process which he called Photographie. It does not seem to have made a major commercial impact. Niépce died of a stroke (1833). He left his papers and experimental notes to Daguerre who continued working to refine the still primitive photographic process. Daguerre was not a trained scientist. He managed, however, to make made two critical discoveries. First he found the critical neceessary chemical steps. This was a two step process. He used iodine vapour on the plate before exposing it tgo light. Then after the exposure he used mercury fumes. This brought out a latent image. Second, bathing the exposed plate in a salt bath fixed the image. Daguerre announced his invention (1839). Fox Talbot in England after hearing of Daguerre's success, announced his work. Commercial photography began with the Daguerreotype. While France was the leader in photography with the Daguerreotype, for some reason we have bren able to find few French dags and virtually no cased dags. We are not sure why this is. One source says that the French government bought the patent and made it public domain. Our understanding is that Daguerre persued copyright struggles with immitators. The Daguerreotype was a huge hit in America and large numbers of studios were opened. Apparently this did not occur in France. As the name suggests, the origins of the carte-de-viste (CDV) using a negative process was French in the early 1850s. One source suugests (1851). Another source indicates that a French photographer, André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri, introduced the CDV (1854). For some reason the CDV was not an immediate success. We do not begin to see many actual examples until the end of the decade. We see the Trantoul studio in Toulousea studio publicizing awards in 1850 and 1858 on the back of their CDV. We are guessing the 1850 award was for a Dag and the 1858 award was for a CDV. Thus was about the time the popularity of the CDV format began to take off (1859-60). A portrait of Emperor Napoleon III seems to have begun the CDV craze.

Photograph Types

We have only begun to assess French portrait types and how they compared with similar types in other countries. We have not yet found French Daguerreotypes and Ambrotypes. We know they existed, but were done in far fewer numbers than in America. We have not yet been able to archive any examples on HBC. We note large numbers of CDVs that look similar to American and other European CDVs. We are not yet sure about cabinet cards as we have so few examples. The CDV seems to have been much more popular in Frabnce than the cabinet card. We are as aesult, unable to develop trends in French cabinet cards. We do note cabinet cards being done as late as 1940. They disappeared earlier in other countries. We do not notice them after World War II. Nor have we been able to assess the styles of paper frame portraits. Postcards were very popular in France. We note both commercial post cards and postcard-back snap shots. France had a very large commercial postcard industry. There were several important companies. We know less about the podtcard-back snapshots at this time.

Cases, Mounts, and Frames

The Daguerreotype, the first commercial photographic process, was developed in France. We have, however, managed to find very few French Dags, in sharp contrast to a huge number of American Dags. Dagueres court actions protecting his [atent seems to have been a major reason. This appears to have been a major trend in Europe. And we also see fwer cased Dags and ambros. Only with the CDV do we begin to see large numbers of photographic images. These were images that were mounted on carbprd and then many were collected and stored in albums.

Color

From the very beginning of photography there was an interest in producing color images. Thre were ways of adding a little color to Dags and Ambros. The first real efforts to intriduce coloe was the colorization of albumen prints (DDVs and and cabinet cards). Sone of this was done crudely, but some colorized prints were done very expertly creating an image that looks close to a color print. The Lumière brothers invented an early color process (1903). Some claim it was the first true color process. Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky (Серге́й Миха́йлович Проку́дин-Го́рский) at about the same time produced even more vivbrant color images, but was more complicated and less commercially viable. The Lumière brothers called their process autochrome and began marketing it (1907). Billionare and philanthropist Albert Kahn decided to use the Autichrome process to create a color photographic record of human life on Earth (1909). He saw it as a way of promoting peace and fostering cross-cultural understanding. Kahn saw photography, especially color photography, as a mechanism of cataloging the human 'tribes' of the world and constructing a vibrant, colorful mosacic of humanity.







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Created: 10:36 AM 12/1/2010
Last updated: 8:27 PM 4/19/2017