The beautiful and the damned: the creation of identity in nineteenth century photography

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Lund Humphries, 2001 - Social Science - 121 pages
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The Beautiful and the Damned looks for the first time at the broad social and cultural context for the development of portrait photography in the nineteenth century, showing how social and celebrity portraiture on the one hand, and scientific photography on the other, were different facets of the nineteenth-century fascination with classification and ordering.

Between 1860 and 1900, editions of celebrity portraits, as well as the vogue for the carte de visite, fuelled the fashion for collecting and classifying photographs of the face. In an age of rapid industrialization and the growth of the middle classes, the carte de visite became a means of conferring social status, and family albums -- which often incorporated photographs of royalty and public figures -- were used to position family members within society at large.

Photographic portraiture's rapid rise to popularity encouraged its diffusion to other spheres, and the portrait photograph was adopted by the new sciences and technologies to provide empirical evidence for theories of evolution, phrenology, racial types, insanity and criminality. A system of scrutiny or 'surveillance' of the face emerged.

The Beautiful and the Damned is a significant addition to an important new area of photographic history. Illustrated with 100 black-and-white images, this book also provides a comprehensive visual insight into the genre and features work by key figures such as Oscar Rejlander, Bassano, Eugene Atget and Julia Margaret Cameron.

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