[Empress Eugènie]

[Empress Eugènie]

Photograph

S. L. Levitsky

Maker
Russian, 1819–1898

[Empress Eugènie]

ca. 1865
Albumen silver print
Image: 8.5 x 5.5 cm
Mount: 10.5 x 6.1 cm
Gift of the 3M Foundation, ex-collection Louis Walton Sipley
1981.5776.0002
Inscriptions recto (printed): LEVITSKY, 22, Rue de Choiseul.
verso (stamped): BRADY-SIPLEY COLLECTION
TextFirst introduced in the 1850s, tintype and ambrotype photographs enjoyed widespread popularity throughout the 1860s and ’70s. Both used the wet-plate collodion process, which involved a light sensitive liquid emulsion that was coated onto a support and quickly exposed to light before the solution dried. The primary difference between ambrotypes and tintypes were their supports: tintypes used a thin sheet of iron coated with a dark lacquer as their base, whereas ambrotypes used a sheet of glass backed with a black material. Despite the obvious difficulties involved with handling a wet emulsion within a constricted timeframe, wet collodion-based processes were attractive to photographers for their high light sensitivity, ability to record minute detail, and relative cheapness, a quality that led the tintype to be colloquially known as “the poor man’s daguerreotype” and made informal sittings such as these economically feasible.

Lisa Hostetler, Ph.D.
Curator in Charge, Department of Photography
Label for A History of Photography [Rotation 1]
May 9–September 28, 2014
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