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H5249-16 Photograph, ambrotype, mounted in brooch, handcoloured, unidentified woman in studio setting, glass / metal / velvet / paper, photographer unknown, place of production unknown, 1855-1865, owned by Albert James Perier, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, late 19th to early 20th century. Click to enlarge.

Brooch containing ambrotype studio portrait of a woman

Made
  • 1855-1865
This photograph is significant because it is one of the few surviving ambrotypes with links to Australia. While millions of these ambrotype photographs were produced around the world and many thousands in Australia remarkably few have survived that can be linked to Australian society during the 1850s and 1860s. Although the sitter in the portrait is currently unidentified the museum recognises the importance of maintaining its collection of ambrotypes as examples of the fashion and early …

Summary

Object No.

H5249-16

Object Statement

Photograph, ambrotype, mounted in brooch, handcoloured, unidentified woman in studio setting, glass / metal / velvet / paper, photographer unknown, place of production unknown, 1855-1865, owned by Albert James Perier, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, late 19th to early 20th century

Physical Description

An ambrotype showing a portrait of an older woman photographed in a studio setting. The woman wears a dress with a lace collar and chains around her neck. She has the right side of the her body angled towards the camera. The ambrotype has been hand tinted with the woman's collar in white and the chains are her neck in gold. The ambrotype is enclosed in an oval metal frame with a glass cover. There is a metal clasp pin fixed to the back of the frame.

Dimensions

Width

46 mm

Depth

10 mm

Production

Made

  • 1855-1865

Notes

In 1851 Frederick Scott Archer announced the discovery of a new photographic process that could adhere to glass. This was a major breakthrough in the story of photography for the process made clear highly detailed negatives form which multiple copies could be made.

The general public had become used to their photographic portraits being taken using a daguerreotype process which were displayed in a small glass fronted case. To compete with this trade a special kind of collodion process, known as the ambrotype was introduced. This was essentially the same as other collodion negatives except that once the exposure had been taken the emulsion on the glass was bleached to whiten it. When this bleached negative was placed in a case against a black background it formed a positive image which bore a remarkable resemblance to the daguerreotype except it had the added advantage of not being highly reflective.

Australia followed rather than set photographic trends but in the 1850s, the massive boom caused by the discovery of gold ensured it was very quick to take up new processes like the ambrotype. Over the 1850s the ambrotype replaced the daguerreotype as the preferred method of taking portraits but even in the late 1850s daguerreotypes were still being made for more conservative customers.

Geoff Barker, Curatorial, September 2009

References
J. Cato, The Story of the Camera in Australia, Third Edition, Institute of Australian Photography, Hong Kong, 1979
Michel Frizot, A New History of Photography, Amilcare Pizzi, Milan, 1998
Helmut and Alison Gernsheim, A Concise History of Photography, Thames and Hudson, Germany, 1965
A. Davies and P. Stanbury, 1985, The Mechanical Eye in Australia, Oxford University Press, Melbourne

History

Owned

Notes

From the collection of Albert James Perier, photographer

Albert James Perier (1870-1964) was born in France and moved to Sydney with his parents and brother Charles in 1884. In 1890, the address of his father Edward Perier was 13 Darlinghurst Road, Sydney. Edward Perier was a French teacher.

Albert worked for Harrington & Co photographers. In 1922 he set up his own establishment to sell equipment for photography and microscopy. It was located at 151a William Street Sydney. In 1922 he was described as an early pioneer of the Australian motion picture industry by the Sydney Morning Herald.

'The Sydney Morning Herald', Friday 9 June, 1922, page 9
'Le Courrier Australien', Friday 5 November, 1920, page 4

His obituary was published by 'Le Courrier Australien' Friday 17th January 1964, page 5

'We learn with regret the death of Mr Albert J Perier (92) deceased of Mosman (N.-GS) Le 8.1.1964. He came from France, in 1884. Mr Perier was a photography technician. Employed first in Sydney by the Studio Baker and Rouse. He was the director of this firm when it merged with Kodak. It was M Perier who with M Sestler made known in Australia the cinematographic material of the lumière brothers. In 1897 Mr Perier filmed in Melbourne the famous Melbourne cup race. Through his love of the profession and his unalterable courtesy Mr. Perrier has earned the esteem and gratitude of a host of amateurs and many photography professionals. He leaves only friends in our community'

Cite this Object

Harvard

Brooch containing ambrotype studio portrait of a woman 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 27 October 2021, <https://ma.as/242587>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/242587 |title=Brooch containing ambrotype studio portrait of a woman |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=27 October 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}