'David Brewster', c 1866.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A carte-de-visite portrait of Sir David Brewster (1781-1868), taken at the studio of the London Stereoscopic Company, Cheapside, London, in about 1866. David Brewster was a physicist who is best known for his experiments with lenses and light. In 1816 he invented the kaleidoscope, and later began experimenting with the stereoscope, invented by Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875). Brewster was the first person to suggest the refracting stereoscope and the two-lens stereo camera. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1815 and knighted in 1832. 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