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Antique French Ambrotype Photo in Metal Frame

Antique French Ambrotype Photo in Metal Frame

$250.00

Recently found at market in Paris, this striking 19th century Antique French Framed Ambrotype is replete with fascinating hallmarks of the period. Mounted within an exquisitely intricate cast metal frame bearing original Paris foundry marks, a seated woman and young child do their very best to sit perfectly still for the camera.

Produced using a variation of the wet collodion process developed by Frederick Scott Archer in 1849, this photographic innovation was the first method by which multiple copies from a single image could be produced.  It was achieved by adding a soluble iodide to a solution of cellulose nitrate called collodion, and coating a glass plate with the mixture which was then moved into the darkroom for its final step - immersion in silver nitrate. While still wet, the prepared plate was exposed in the camera and then quickly developed by the photographer before the collodion could dry, becoming impervious to further liquid reagents.

Ambrotypes were developed using a slight artistic modification to the process in which an underexposed negative was backed with dark paper or velvet to offer contrast and dimension to the image. The format became a popular novelty from the mid-to-late 19th-century, as did a more familiar version backed with black lacquered metal known as the tintype.

Archer's method was prized for the level of detail and clarity it allowed, and the ensuing bonus of being able to duplicate precise images quickly revolutionized the nascent art of photography.  The inventor, who began his career as an apprentice silversmith before turning to portrait sculpture did not live to see the immense impact this advance would have on his field, passing away in 1867 at age 44, without patent or trademark on his process.

Requiring an exposure time much longer than that to which we are accustomed today, and processed directly on the very same glass plate placed within the camera by the photographer more than a hundred years ago, the image captures a moment in time treasured by a family for more than a century as evidenced by the inscription also found within the frame. Ma grand mère Sellier paternel - le bebe est Jere enfant.- "My grandmother Sellier (paternal). The baby is Jere (Jeremy) as a child." 

Making this charming artifact even more unique, deeper inspection of the image reveals evidence of early photo editing techniques used on the glass plate as a gold wedding ring was hand-painted onto the ring finger of the woman. Rich with familial history and quiet beauty, this wonderful early photographic find in its lasting, artfully detailed metal frame, promises to bestow its gentle elegance and storied provenance for generations to come.


Strictly one-of-a-kind and subject to prior sale. 4.75"H x 3.75"W. In very good antique condition with discreet signs of age-appropriate wear.

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