André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri

Dates1819 - 1889
BornParis, France
DiedParis, France

André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri, former merchant, actor, and daguerreotypist, patented his invention, the carte-de-visite (visiting card) photograph, in 1854. At nine-by-six centimeters, cartes were primarily portraits, about the size of a conventional calling card and soon just as popular. Disdéri established his photographic practice with the manufacture of these tiny photographs; he divided a single glass plate negative to make ten different exposures and then printed them simultaneously. By 1862 he had expanded his operation to include a second studio in Paris, devoted entirely to equestrian portraits. Studios in London followed, and Disdéri, ever the showman and enterprising businessman, developed numerous photographic gimmicks to keep business afloat.

The carte-de-visite was popular until the late 1860s, when it was replaced by the larger cabinet card format. Disdéri photographed views of the siege of Paris in 1870 and 1871, but the changed political and social climate contributed to the demise of his studio business. Following several bankruptcies, he moved to Nice in 1877 and ran a series of photography studios there. He returned to Paris in the late 1880s and died in an institution.