Lord Elgin, c 1860.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A carte-de-visite portrait of James Bruce, Lord Elgin (1811-1863). Elgin was the son of the seventh Earl of Elgin, best known for the 'Elgin marbles'. Lord Elgin was Governor General of Canada from 1847-1854 and Governor General of India from 1862 until his death the following year. 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 and address.