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Étienne Carjat
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Fareins, France
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
Duboiss, France
Étienne Carjat was a master of portrait photography in 19th century Paris, who photographed many of the noted celebrities of his day. He was also a journalist, editor, caricaturist, lithographer and playwright. Born in the village of Fareins, near Lyon, Carjat moved with his family to Paris in 1838. After working as an industrial designer, he became a caricaturist in the 1850s, first of theatrical personalities and then luminaries of Paris. With Amédée Rolland (1819-1868) he founded the satirical weekly newspaper Diogène in August, 1856, to which he contributed caricatures, but the journal folded after eight months of publication. Carjat spent the next four years in various jobs, some in Baden and Marseille, and studied photography with Pierre Petit (1832-1909) in Baden sometime between 1859 and 1861. With a 25,000 franc investment from a supporter, Carjat opened a photographic studio in 1861 in Paris, and combined portrait photography with caricature and his other interest until the late 1870s. In collaboration with several literary and artistic figures of the time, Carjat began publishing the weekly the journal Le Boulevard on December 1, 1861, featuring essays, biographies and his caricatures. Publication ceased in 1863, after Carjat suffered severe financial reverses. Carjat was an early user of the wet collodion negative in his photography, publishing both small cartes de visite and larger portraits. He photographed many of the celebrities of his day, including Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), Jean Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875), Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), Honoré Daumier (1808-1879), Victor Hugo (1802-1885), and Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868). His portrait photographs were usually half or three-quarters length, without props, which permitted the viewer to focus on the face of his subjects. He published photographic portraits in Le Panthéon Parisien during 1862 and 1863, contributed to the portrait series, Galerie Contemporaine, Littérairè, Artistique and exhibited in Berlin, London, Marseille and Paris, winning a bronze medal at the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle. He was a member of the Société Française de Photographie. Like his publishing career, his photographic career was not financially successful, and Carjat was forced to reconstitute his photographic studio in 1864 and declare bankruptcy in 1865, restarting his photography business with new backers the next year. After he abandoned photography in the 1870s, he continued to publish articles and poetry for the rest of his life. (TNB 2/2010) Selected bibliography: Hannavy, John, ed. Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, v. 1, pp. 272-274. 2008. McCauley, Elizabeth Anne. “Caricature and Photography in Second Empire Paris,” Art Journal, Winter, 1983, pp. 355-360.