Page from one of Lady Filmer's photographs albums, 1860s. Photograph: Patrizia di Bello, Birkbeck.


Carte-de-visite: the photographic portrait as ‘social media’

  • Tuesday 9 May 2023
  • The Art Workers' Guild, 6 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AT
  • Lecturer: Professor Patrizia di Bello

‘The demand for photographs is not limited to relations or friends. […] Anyone who has seen you, or has seen anybody that has seen you, or knows anyone that says he has seen a person who thought he had seen you, considers himself entitled to ask you for your photograph’ (Anon, ‘Fashions’, Saturday Review, 1862)

This lecture explores the boom in carte-de-visite portraits in the 1860s: their value, uses and abuses as personal memento and, at the same time, a visual currency for exchange in fashionable Society and celebrity culture.

The lecture will be followed by a glass of wine which will give  members the opportunity to discuss the lecture with other members and the lecturer.



 Professor Patrizia di Bello is currently Head of the Department of Art History at Birkbeck. Starting from a background in practical photography Patrizia gained an MA and a PhD at Birkbeck. She was appointed full-time to the Department in 2003. Her research interests include nineteenth-century women’s albums, combining photography with other media using photo-collage.

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