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Carte de Visite: Research and Development

May 13, 2011

Cartes de Visite, developed in the mid-19th Century, were photographs–small albumen prints mounted on sturdy cards that were wildly popular and made for decades in countries around the world. Used as a sort of ‘calling card’, the format was an international standard- for the first time, relatives and friends could easily exchange portraits to remember each other by. Their small size also made them relatively inexpensive and widely available.

I have assembled a small collection of Cartes de Visite and Tintypes from the 19th Century. These tiny treasures from the past inform and inspire my own plans to create a carte de visite that both draws from and honors the history of the form, yet also reinvents it in my own artistic style.

I would love to recreate some of the details of the original Cartes, like the decorative embossing and use of lovely fonts to mark the name of photographer’s studio onto the back of the image.

Using these historical Cartes as guides, I am developing a few prototypes for my own Cartes de Visite.

Here are a couple early versions of framing motifs that I am working on. Once the development stage is finished, these framing designs will be letterpressed onto the face of the Cartes.

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