The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

The Prince Imperial

The Prince Imperial

A carte-de-visite portrait of the Prince Imperial (1856-1879).

Born on 16 March 1856, the Prince Imperial appears to be about three years old in this photograph of him in Grenadier uniform. At his birth he received a military medal and took his place among the soldiers of the first regiment of the Grenadiers. The Emperor often had him dressed up in uniforms to show that the heir-apparent must successively assume all the grades of the army, starting with the most humble. Images of him in uniform symbolised the commitment to military strength then being encouraged by the ‘Emperor of Peace’. The costume is therefore not only 'cute' and amusing, but also part of a campaign of political propaganda.

The photographer is André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri (1819-1889). The probable inventor of the carte-de-visite, Disdéri received a patent for the process from the French government on 27 November 1854, and was certainly responsible for popularising the fad. Remembered for having been the first to establish photography as a business as well as an artistic craft, his contemporaries considered him the outstanding portrait photographer in France.


Code: 122676
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