Camille Silvy

Dates1834 - 1910
RolesArtist, Photographer
BornNogent-le-Rotrou, Eure-et-Loir, France
DiedSaint-Maurice, France

Camille Silvy once credited his start in photography to the influence of a drawing teacher he had as a child. Silvy had studied law and had become a diplomat, but it was after a visit to Algeria that he became a photographer. He met with early success photographing the landscape around the countryside outside of Paris where he grew up. One critic said of his landscapes: "It is difficult to obtain a greater finesse in the details with such grand and well combined effects of light."

Silvy became a member of the Société Française de Photographie in 1858. By 1859, he had moved to London and opened a portrait studio producing cartes-de-visite, the small, calling card-sized photographs invented by André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri in 1854. Silvy also became a member of the Photographic Society there. In 1868, when the popularity of the carte-de-visite had waned, Silvy sold his London studio and returned to France. With his health wrecked by poisoning from photography chemicals, Silvy died at age seventy-five.