With the advent of photography, access to portraiture became more democratic; the painted portrait being then reserved for an aristocratic caste or a bourgeois elite. After daguerreotypes, the success and attraction for photographic portraits were confirmed with Disdéri’s invention, “card portraits”, which quickly met with great success. Besides its speed and its price, the great advantage is that it made it possible to reproduce and print in large numbers. In its early days, photography was above all a scientific feat, an apparently neutral mechanical device, as close as possible to reality. From the first decades of its history, photography had already explored, so to speak, all of the sub-genres of portraiture that we still practice today: official portraits, the nude, celebrity portraits, the family portrait – in particular the wedding portrait. and children’s portraits – the self-portrait, the group portrait, the historical portrait, the fictitious portrait,… Yet, from its invention, it has been at the service of staging, artifice and illusion. According to Nadar, a “good” portrait should be more faithful to human perception than to physics: “Photography is within...
This article is reserved for subscribed members only. If you are already a member, you can log in here below.
Subscribe for full access to The Eye of Photography archives!
That’s thousands of images and articles, documenting the history of the medium of photography and its evolution during the last decade, through a unique daily journal. Explore how photography, as an art and as a social phenomenon, continue to define our experience of the world. Two offers are available.
Subscribe either monthly for $5 or annually for $50 (2 months offered).