|While Winterhalter painted her in the low cut, meringue evening dresses concocted for her by Worth, photographers depicted Eugénie as a demure, well-dressed woman. As the female head of state, she was expected to embody the virtues of Second Empire womanhood, while promoting French fashions and fabrics. The modest, introverted poses she invariably adopted for her official photographs were inspired by the fashion plates of the day.
The photographer is André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri (1819-1889). The probable inventor of the carte-de-visite, Disdéri received a patent for the process from the French government on 27 November, 1854, and was certainly responsible for popularising the craze. Remembered for having been the first to establish photography as a business as well as an artistic craft, his contemporaries considered him the outstanding portrait photographer in France. Although at the height of his career he was reputed to be earning a phenomenal £48,000 a year, in January 1872 he filed for bankruptcy. He subsequently found new backers and re-established a studio, at first in Paris and then at various addresses in Nice during the 1880’s. For some reason he left the agreeable climate of Nice and returned to Paris around 1888 or 1889. He died on 4 October 1889 at the age of seventy, in the Hôpital Sainte-Anne, an institution for indigents, alcoholics and the mentally ill.
condition: The print presents a few small imperfections in the area of the background but is otherwise in excellent condition, as is the mount.
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