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Double Portrait [Two Men Seated at a Table]

Antoine Claudet—a French glass merchant turned photography innovator—settled in England in 1828. This dual-paned portrait was produced in his studio, known as the Temple of Photography. Bringing a new sense of artistry to the medium, Claudet carefully posed his sitters, utilized backdrops and props, manipulated lighting, and added hand-tinting to enhance his products. Such high-quality images offered status to wealthy clients, including Queen Victoria, who was intrigued by the new technology and its “magic” realism. The figure on the right may be a self-portrait of the artist. The inclusion of books as props supported Claudet’s efforts to promote photography as both art and science. He, likewise, popularized and improved the stereoscope, which used two images of the same subject taken from slightly different angles to produce a three-dimensional effect when viewed through a special device.

Antione Claudet
French (active in Great Britain), 1797–1867
Double Portrait [Two Men Seated at a Table]
ca. 1851–67
Stereoscopic daguerreotype with applied color in gilt crested leather slip-case
Image (each side): 2 5/8 x 2 3/8 in. (6.5 x 6.0 cm) (irregular); mount: 3 ¼ x 6 7/8 in. (8.3 x 17.5 cm); slip-case: 3 5/8 x 7 in. (9.2 x 17.8)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 75.45.2