Carte de Visites
Alfred Roman- Original Owner
*See individual CdVs
Silver gelatin print
10.2 x 6.4 cm
The Collection of Oak Alley Foundation
- “Big House” exhibit
- Artifact Room
The carte de visite, or CdV, was one of the first wildly popular and exploitable forms of photography. Finding its origins in early calling cards, the CdV had several attributes that lead to its prominence. First, the size was universal which allowed international trading and use. Due to its materials, an albumen print on a thick card, there was no hazardous or delicate materials, such as glass, that had to be protected. The image was always clear and easy to see and it was overall light enough that mailing was easily accomplished. With their small size, relatively low cost production, and universal sizing, the carte de visites quickly became prominent in places such as America, England, and France.
Today, in the Artifact Room of the “Big House” exhibit, nineteen cartes de visites are on display, a small portion of the full twenty-eight count set. At one point in time, all twenty-eight resided inside of an album owned by Alfred Roman, son of former Governor Andre Bienvenu Roman and nephew to Jacques Telesphore Roman, owner of Oak Alley Plantation. Alfred Roman played a large role in the Civil War and, unsurprisingly, collected many CdVs of various military and public figures.
Inside of the “Big House” exhibit, the following carte de visites are on display within the Artifact Room: General John Bell Hood, President Andrew Johnson, Vice President John C. Breckinridge, General P.G.T. Beauregard, General Richard Scott “Dick” Taylor, Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, General John Hunt Morgan, General Richard S. Ewell, and Lieutenant General William Joseph Hardee, John Wilkes Booth, Captain Raphael Semmes, General Robert E. Lee, Major General Sterling Price, and two unidentified soldiers.
Of the full twenty-eight, ten CdVs are in storage hosting the following sitters: General Samuel Cooper, General Robert E. Lee, The Fairy Wedding Group, “Horloge Astronomique Protographic”, The Royal Satsuma’s Japanese Troupe, Mr. and Mrs. General Tom Thumb, General Albert Sidney Johnston, John Wilkes Booth, and two unidentified soldiers.