'Shah of Persia', c 1875.
© NMeM / Kodak Collection / Science & Society
A carte-de-visite portrait of Nasir ad-Din (c 1831-1896), the Shah of Persia, taken by an unknown photographer in about 1865. The Shah wears military uniform encrusted with braid and medals. Shah of Persia between 1848 and 1896, he travelled extensively in Europe and brought back many Western ideas, some of which he applied to the reorganisation of the Persian government. 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 Disderi (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 an