Albert Prince Consort, about 1859
© Science & Society
A carte-de-visite of Prince Albert (1819-1861), taken by an unknown photographer in about 1858. This rather informal portrait of Queen Victoria's husband shows him as thoughtful and scholarly. A carte-de-visite is a photograph mounted on a piece of card the size of a formal visiting card of the 1850s - hence the name. The format was introduced by the French photographer Andre-Adolphe-Eugene DisdÃ©ri (1819-1889) in 1854. As well as family portraits, commercial cartes of celebrities such as politicians, Royalty and popular personalities were published. The craze for collecting celebrity cartes-de-visite in albums reached its peak during the 1860s but the format remained popular until the beginning of the twentieth century. The backs of cartes-de-visite were normally printed with the photographer's name and address. Photographs of family, friends, places of interest, works of art and celebrity portraits led the commercial expansion of photography around 1860. In 1854, the Frenchman Alphonse Eugene Disderi developed a means of mass producing portraits. These small format photographs, known as carte-de-visite, were relatively inexpensive, and brought a new clientele to the photographers' studio. Carte-de-visite were collected and exchanged in a new social ritual and were often displayed in albums. Later they were replaced by the larger format cabinet cards. This photograph is from the collection of the Royal Photographic Society.