In 1866, Frederick Richard Window, a London photographer
who had introduced the Diamond Cameo Carte de Visite two years
earlier, put forward the idea of a larger format for portrait
photography. The proposed format was a photographic print mounted
on a sturdy card measuring 41/4 inches by
61/2 inches. (roughly 11cm x 17cm). The
new format was called the Cabinet Portrait, presumably
because a large photograph on a stout card could be displayed
on a wooden cabinet or similar piece of furniture. The Scottish
photographer George Washington Wilson (1823-1893) had produced
'cabinet' sized landscape views as early as 1862, but F.R.Window
had adopted the large format specifically for portraiture.
Window believed the larger dimensions of the 'cabinet print' (4
inches by 51/2 inches
or approximately 10.2 cm x 10.2 cm x 14.1 cm) would enable the
professional photographer to demonstraste his technical and artistic
skill and produce portraits of a higher quality than the small
cdv would allow.
The cabinet photograph increased in popularity as the demand
for carte de visite portraits fell. Much larger than the cdv,
the size of the cabinet format made it more suitable for group
and family portraits.
Carte de visite portrait
of a bald headed gentleman by Mayall's Brighton studio.On
the right is the same portrait in the larger cabinet format.
The cabinet portrait was mounted on a sturdy card which
often ,as in this example, carried the name and address
of the studio in gold lettering against a black background.
[ SEE ILLUSTRATION AT RIGHT ]
Cabinet portrait by
J E Mayall of 91 Kings Road, Brighton
Advertisements for the 'New Cabinet Portraits' appeared in Sussex
newspapers at the end of 1867. A single cabinet photograph would
cost 3 shillings (15 p.) and a dozen copies could be had for 15
shillings. (75 p.). By 1877, the studio of C. Hawkins of
Preston Street, Brighton would make the first copy of a cabinet
portrait for 2s 6d (121/2 p) while a dozen copies would cost 12
shillings. (60 p.)
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last updated: 4 Juner, 2003
website is dedicated to the memory of Arthur T. Gill (1915-1987), Sussex