These are rare! There was a rather short period in time when early photographers were being innovative, following Daguerre's invention of the first form of photography in 1839, "daguerreotype", which consisted of a single one-of-a-kind image in emulsion on silver layer on a copper or silver plate - very fragile and extremely clear and crisp, it rendered the portrait miniature industry superfluous, really. It was soon followed by the next big thing: an emulsion on glass, creating the ambrotype, then after that the tintype which, by mid-1860s was affordable enough to reach the masses. By the 1870s, they were producing paper photographs mounted on card backings that are known as cabinet cards, which followed the first paper photograph, the "carte de visit", c.1865. So by the time this photographer was transferring emulsion onto an enamel base and kiln-firing it to produce these enamel plaques, the photographical industry was in full bloom and very exciting. The first of this type I'd ever seen were small enamel photos mounted on gravestones - not worn a bit by the weather, and holding up just fine (if a little haunting) on gravestones that were showing their age and sometimes crumbling. With interest, then, I do buy all of these I find that are not graveyard or tombstone mounted, and this exceptionally fine 1/2 plate (extra large) enamel photo from Paris, is the crowning glory of the collection I once amassed. The photographer's written his dedication in the enamel on backside of this convex copper plaque, so we know it was Emile Bondonneau, whose shop was a 10 Bd. Montmartre, PARIS. And that it was done in 1878. We don't, however, know who the woman is whose image is so beautifully captured here. She looks like Empress Eugenie, don't you agree? And perhaps if I put more time to it, I'd find it actually is the wife of France's last Emperor, Napoleon III. But the thing that most interests me in this is that it is the rare form - the kiln-fired enamel photo on copper plaque that is a unique process among photos in history.
Very good to excellent for age and type. Still in the original frame, the frame does show some damage, but the portrait is still fabulous. More stable than any form of photography known in its time, there were not very many done in this manner. I find very few. A superb item for the sophisticated collector of early photography, and all the more because it is an oversized half plate. Wow, huh!
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