Andre Adolphe-Eugene Disderi

Andre Adolphe-Eugene Disderi


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Andre Adolphe-Eugene Disderi had little education, however he was intelligent and became a clever businessman. Disderi married Genevieve-Elisabeth in 1843 and the family moved to the French town Brest to open his first photographic studio. They moved to Paris in 1853 where he opened another photographic studio with money lent to him by a friend.

In 1854, Disderi patented a way of taking several images on one photographic plate with a multi-lens camera. Carte-de-visites, or “visiting cards,” were 2 ¼ x 3 ½ inch photographs attached to 2 ½ x 4-inch paper cards. However, the process did not become famous until May 1859, when, it has been said, Napoleon III halted his troops outside Disderi’s studio to have a photograph taken by Disderi. The resulting publicity made him famous, and the process made him rich. He turned his studio into the “Palace of Photography”. Disderi’s studio had a staff of 90 producing thousands of prints daily and promised a 48-hour delivery. This was the first mass-producing of photographs. The prints were small, therefore retouching was not required.


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Cartes were extremely popular because of their cheapness and their small collectible size. Images of royalty and other famous figures could be bought and traded. Carte-de-visites were the equivalent of modern-day baseball cards. In 1861, Disderi was the richest photographer in the world. Later, Disderi opened other studios and was appointed Court Photographer. By 1866 the demand for the small photograph was replaced by the larger Cabinet Card photograph. After trying other photographic techniques unsuccessfully, Disderi moved to Nice and became a beach photographer. By the time Disderi died in Nice his fortune had been spent, he was deaf and half-blind.