'Carte de visite' (visiting card) photograph of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, John J.E. Mayall

'Carte de visite' (visiting card) photograph of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, John J.E. Mayall

Carte de visite (visiting card)
John Jabez Edwin Mayall (1810-1901), Guy Little Theatrical Photographs
1861
London
Bequeathed by Guy Little
Museum no. 3504-1953

A miniature photographic portrait such as this example, is called a 'carte de visite' (the French for 'visiting card'). This was a photographic format, originating from the visiting card, which was introduced in France in 1854. Cartes were mass produced, and those like Mayall's pictures of the royal couple were ordered by the hundreds of thousands. It was fashionable to collect 'cartes de visite' and compile them in albums.

In this image, the Queen's skirt is tiered for fullness, which was fashionable in the 1850s and very early 1860s. It is held out in a pronounced bell shape by layers of petticoats or a steel cage crinoline. Her bodice is buttoned high at the neck and trimmed with a lace collar, with low-set and sloping shoulders. Her hair is parted in the middle and scraped back into loops and buns at the nape of the neck. Prince Albert wears a high starched collar with a neck-tie tied in a knot around it. His hair and moustache was copied by many men at this time.