Photograph; portrait of Henriette Henriot (cabinet card)
C.H. Reutlinger (photographers)
Museum no. S.137:417-2007
Photography was a novel and exciting development in Victorian days. Many people had studio photographs taken, in everyday dress or fancy dress, for ‘cartes de visite’, and later ‘cabinet cards’. Both were albumen prints made from glass negatives, attached to stiff card backing printed with the photographer’s name.
‘Cartes de visite’, the size of formal visiting cards, were patented in 1854 and produced in their millions during the 1860s when it became fashionable to collect them. Their subjects included scenic views, tourist attractions and works of art, as well as portraits. They were superseded in the late 1870s by the larger and sturdier ‘cabinet cards’ whose popularity waned in turn during the 1890s in favour of postcards and studio portraits.
This photograph shows the actress Henriette Henriot in stylish dress. Her bosom is low and round in the shape of a puffed 'pouter pigeon', considered the height of fashion in the 1900s and especially around 1905. Her hair is piled in loose waves on top of her head, and is pushed slightly forwards over her forehead.