Curator Sarah Farrar discusses this early portrait.
<P>This recording was created for Te Papa’s in-gallery audio tour.</P>
<P>This woman has taken advantage of what was, at the time, a new type of photograph: the carte-de-visite. Previous forms of photography were bulky and expensive. These were cheap, slim, and small. The name comes from the fact these images are about the size of the visiting cards of the period.</P>
<P>Cartes-de-visite made family photograph collections practicable for the first time. For a modest price, a sitter would have received several prints. One set of pictures might have been added to an album, enabling family relationships to be laid out in visual form. Other prints could be shared with relatives, to be displayed on mantelpieces or in albums far away. </P>
<P>This woman is holding a carte-de-visite in her right hand. Was it placed there by the photographer to emphasise the end product of the portrait sitting? Or was it an image of a deceased loved one the woman wanted included?</P>
<P>Because cartes-de-visite were very popular, many have survived and made it into public collections such as Te Papa’s.</P>