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Album of Mexican and French cartes-de-visite, between 1861 and 1880

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Album of Mexican and French cartes-de-visite

Scope and Content of Collection

The album of cartes-de-visite by mostly unidentified photographers (due in part to the fact that the versos of the cartes are not visible) appears to have been assembled by someone who likely served in or was associated with the French army in Mexico during the period known as the French intervention in Mexico (1861-1867) when the French invaded and ruled Mexico, establishing Maximilian, Archduke of Austria, as Emperor of Mexico. Included are 45 cartes-de-visite and one calling card. The following groups of images are present: photographs of pre-Columbian related statuary (5); portraits of 19th-century Mexican presidents, military, and political figures (8); occupational portraits depicting various types of Mexican street vendors and professions, many of whom are indigenous persons (20); portraits of figures associated with the French in Mexico, including generals Ignacio Zaragoza and Jesús Ortega, known for their leadership in the defense of Puebla, and General Tomás Mejía, whose alignment with the French caused him to be executed with Maximillian (5); portraits of Napoleon III and family (3); and unidentified portraits, including some who appear to be family and friends of the album compiler (4).

Seven of the images are photographs of prints or drawings; others are second or third generation copy photographs from original cartes-de-visite, attesting to the popularity and wide dissemination of the Mexican images at the time the album was assembled.

The album has pebbled brown leather covers with a chased brass clasp. The covers and spine are embossed with a gothic design in high relief. The openings of the carte-de-viste mounts are surrounded by a gilt-stamped design with the initials J. H. centered below the design; four openings are empty. French captions are handwritten on many of the mounts in brown ink above and beneath the images; these captions have been used as image titles. Consequently, some titles may include language now considered to be racist or biased. Spelling can also be archaic. For example, througout the album "aztèques" is spelled "astèques."

The three photographs of the French imperial family are by Émile Desmaisons. They are all blindstamped in the photograph: E. D. The photographer's imprint is visible on one verso: E. Desmaisons, 5 rue des Grands Augustins, Paris. Copyright secured for England. One photograph is signed in the negative: E. Desmaisons, DEL.


The collection is arranged in a single series: Series I: Album of Mexican and French cartes-de-visite, approximately 1861-1880.

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