Posted on 05/31/2013

Photo taken on June 17, 2011

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Alexandrine Salmon
early photography
Alexandrine Breton

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Almost vanished. Alexandrine Salmon (née Breton, 1835-1911)

Almost vanished. Alexandrine Salmon (née Breton, 1835-1911)
6th plate French ambrotype
photographer unknown, ca. 1860

Eyes can barely discern the likeness of a beautiful young woman on the thin surface of this badly damaged French ambrotype. However, some very careful scanning and a few digital tricks managed to capture the portrait, which now joins my garden of withered images. Only a small fragment of a golden oval passe-partout, still hanging from the glass plate, hints at its former Napoleon III-style frame – and at the brutal treatment it received in the 20th century.

At some point after this, the daughter of the portrayed housed the bare plate in a postal envelope, accompanied by a small note which identifies our lady as Alexandrine Salmon, née Breton (Oct. 4th, 1835 – June 22, 1911). With the aid of intense lighting, I noticed the faded and fragmentary impression of the photographer`s advertisement, once glued on the back of the ambrotype. In its present state, it doesn`t add much to our knowledge of the lady’s whereabouts, but maybe someone will recognize the same fonts and design on a better preserved photograph.

No doubt Mme Salmon was here in her twenties, probably neither Madame nor Salmon yet: the absence of jewels and other accessories suggest the serious maid, not the achieved young wife. But besides being a beautiful, healthy, well-dressed and well-mannered member of the French petite bourgeoisie, as her posing shows us, Mme Alexandrine`s little history remains as vague as her portrait.


View this ambrotype on Flickr.

BeautyOfThePast, elinor04 (Nóra Mészöly) have particularly liked this photo

I think the fashion of those times where not very lovely, ladies looks so severe with their hairs pulled straight and their up tight garments...... the picture and explanations are very intersting !
3 years ago.