André-Adolphe Disdéri (1819–1889)

Of humble birth and little education, Disdéri was born at Paris, and was to become an important figure in the history of early French photography. He initially pursued a number of interests, including acting, commerce and painting, before deciding on a career in photography in around 1847. He moved to Brest where he opened his first photographic studio in 1848, with the financial backing of his wife's brother. He opened another at the Boulevard des Italiennes, Paris, in 1854, and there he discovered and patented the multi-lensed camera that produced eight small prints from a single negative. Each print was referred to as a carte-de-visite (calling card), which was to become very popular with the middle and upper classes around the world. In 1859, he was appointed court photographer by Napoleon III. Disdéri's studio was very successful, peaking in 1860, and he was the richest photographer in Europe. He had branches of his studio at London, Toulon, and Madrid. However, his fortune dwindled through property speculations and racing stables, and he resorted to earning a living as a beach photographer at Nimes. He died in poverty in an institution for the poor at Paris.









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