PRINT October 1978

Composite Imagery and the Origins of Photomontage, Part II: The Formalist Strain

THE MOST BASIC CHARACTERISTIC of photomontage is the joining of two or more individual photographic images, as parts, to form another complete, different image. Sometimes photomontage is coupled with hand drawing or with typographic forms. Frequently it has been used to surmount technical or mere physical limitations to produce a photographic image that is visually unified and more or less naturalistic and convincing as a “facsimile” of its ostensible subject. Just as readily, photomontage has been brought into play in the service of pure whimsy, with themes too fanciful to be photographed directly. Photomontage has also been utilized by picture-makers for strict, formal reasons to create images which are in no way naturalistic and have no grounding in fantasy, but present a diversity of photographs of various subjects for the sake of assemblage and/or amalgamation. Thus independent pictures could be cut out and pasted down; or printed sequentially on a single sheet of paper; or exposed multiply in negative; or printed multiply in combination on a sheet of paper. Always at the heart of photomontage, however, is the use of multiple pictures to make up another single picture. Photomontage is the creation of pictures from other pictures.

Photomontage has been a thoroughly modern technique of making pictures. Most historians, critics and even the artists themselves have usually considered this type of imagery as spawned by early 20th-century modernism in art. The customary argument has been that the kinds of pictures created during the period just prior to World War I issued in a new style of art and a new kind of pictorial value. The planar, flattened space of Cubism, the chaotic velocity of forms in Futurism, the confluent structures of Vorticism, led stylistically to the first photomontages. Photomontage’s lineage is normally traced to Dada, which, by 1921, was no longer around, although its spirit of irreverence and caprice lingered on considerably.

There is ample evidence from the history of photography that photomontage existed well before its purported invention around 1918–1920. And it seems to have existed in some force. Beginning in the early 1850s, photographers relied increasingly on combination prints, cut and pasted assemblages, multiple exposures and similar synthetic or “nonphotographic” devices. For commercial and esthetic reasons, for propaganda, or just for the love of visual play, photomontage formed an extensive part of the photographic vocabulary for nearly three-quarters of a century before Dada. The Dada photomonteurs, however, most likely had no idea of this earlier tradition. Their context was not photography, but fine arts in the strictest sense. Of course, from time to time, 19th-century photographers produced “art,” but their productions more likely than not remained buried within the arena of the photographic profession. Until well into this century, these two contexts shared few of their ideas or sensibilities. The Dadaists did “invent” artistic photomontage, but theirs was an invention that had already taken place and had formed its own parameters in another sphere.

Much of what had been accomplished in terms of photomontage between the early 1850s and the late 1910s was for the purpose of completing a naturalistic image. Certain technical limitations, the inability of the photographer to be “on the spot,” a desire visually to translate a literary theme or fancy—or, at times, to push photography into the realm of idealism—led many photographers to utilize various techniques of photomontage available to them. This part of the early tradition has already been commented upon; it implies no thought of an influence upon the Dadaists, nor any reason for correlation with the more modern movement.1 However, another strain of making pictures out of other pictures emerged during roughly the same period. This strain, totally antithetical to the productions of Oscar Gustave Rejlander, Henry Peach Robinson, Eadweard Muybridge and others, testifies to a sensibility that is much closer to the Dadaist formulation, and much more structural (and surprisingly modernist) than its naturalistic counterpart.

Approximately six months prior to Rejlander’s exhibiting his monumental and highly literary composition Two Ways of Life, in 1857, the Scottish photographer George Washington Wilson produced an edition of Aberdeen Portraits No. 1. In the Banffshire Journal of May 26 this is stated to have been “just published.”2 By this date, Wilson, photographer to the Queen, was quite well known for his portraits of the Royal Family and for his views of the Deeside Highlands. To cite the anonymous reviewer: “These views have become so popular that, travel where you will, you find copies of them: and so great is the demand for them by London fine art firms, that the fortunate producer is, I believe, quite unable to meet the orders which pour in upon him.” This is, if needed, but further evidence for an extensive public market for photographs before the mid-1860s—indeed, even before the vogue for collecting simple cartes-de-visite took place in the early 1860s.

Aberdeen Portraits No. 1 “embraces the portraits of upwards of a hundred gentlemen, all of whom, with a few exceptions, are presently residing in Aberdeen.”3 This kind of assembly of various individual portraits may be of interest in relation to the esthetics of mid-Victorian portraiture in general. What is important, however, is that this is the earliest known example of a picture which is made up out of the material of yet other, preexisting, pictures and which is arranged in a totally unnaturalistic structure. There is no hint of any virtual space, save that of the overlappings and of the gentle forward pressure of the center, which is produced illusionistically by the use of slightly smaller scaled heads at the picture’s perimeter than in the middle. There is also an overall, “nonartful” composition, eliciting no spectator response other than the consciousness that one is viewing a pictorial conglomeration of many pictures.4 This photographic image is only modestly representational, and almost completely presentational. The individual photographs within the larger one show the specific faces of particular persons. When grouped as they are here, the entirety changes from a strictly representational function to one of presenting a collection of pictures. While not totally obviating the principle of mimesis or imitation—each of the sub-pieces does portray an aspect of recognizable reality—the picture refuses to obey the canons of perspective and pictorial space. In short, a picture experience is manufactured which would not occur in painting, or “Art,” until the advent of Cubism in the next century.

Little is known about the sources of Wilson’s Aberdeen Portraits No. 1. A few conjectures, however, may be made. There is little evidence of direct photographic influence, but a number of possible nonphotographic sources do present themselves. Tightly compressed, nearly spaceless massings of human figures frequently occur, especially in connection with processions, adorations and crownings of the Virgin, by such artists as Fra Angelico and Gentile Bellini, in the Quattrocento. Through engravings or even actual works, Wilson may have developed the idea of selecting such a detail and treating it as a complete statement. More probably, the graphic works of John Kay or Louis-Léopold Boilly may have been a more direct source. Kay (1742–1826), a Scottish painter and etcher, worked principally in Edinburgh. In the years 1810 to 1811 he produced a series of etched group portraits of advocates; some of these have a Rowlandson-like charm, but for the most part they are fairly dry. Some of Kay’s Advocates, such as No. 320, are flattened, presentational arrays of heads functioning rather like catalogues of caricatures. As Kay enjoyed some popularity with his caricatures during the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries, it is quite possible that Wilson, who traveled considerably during the 1850s, may have come across his etchings.5

An even more probable source is the lithographic work of the Parisian Boilly (1761–1845), who executed a series of 93 humorous compositions under the title of Les Grimaces between 1822 and 1828. Many of these caricatures share similar formal qualities with certain Quattrocento tableaux, as well as with Wilson’s Aberdeen Portraits. One of Boilly’s “Grimaces,” Réunion de trente-cinq têtes d’expression, is especially notable for its structural and compositional correlation with the Wilson. Though the work of a French lithographer is slightly more remote from Wilson than Kay’s etchings, it is significant that when William Henry Fox Talbot chose to demonstrate in his Pencil of Nature (1844–1846) the capacity of photography to copy works of art, he selected this very Boilly Grimace for reproduction,6 and it is practically unthinkable that Wilson, a professional photographer, would not have known of Talbot’s Pencil of Nature.

Partly because of his photographic excursions about the British Isles, and also because of the closeness of the photographic community at the time, at some point between the years 1843 and 1857 Wilson had no doubt heard of, perhaps even met, David Octavius Hill, a member of the Royal Scottish Academy who was well reputed as a landscape painter and lithographer.7 In 1843 Hill began work on his largest painting, commemorating the signing of the Deed of Demission of the Free Church of Scotland. While Hill is best known today for the highly sensitive photographic portraits he and Robert Adamson made in preparation for this painting, the painting itself, and the manner in which Hill arranged the 480 or so portraits within it, bear some similarities to Wilson’s photograph. Hill did not finish his painting until 1866, but the thoughts behind it—the plans for the composition and arrangement of the heads and the sheer magnitude of the conception—were present for at least a decade before Wilson attempted his work. That both artists were working in Scotland at the same time also contributes to the probability of some connection.

The treatment of the portraits is essentially identical in both works: a mélange of closely packed faces, each quite discernible; a kind of early-Renaissance, “step-ladder” arrangement of figures in space; and a gradual swelling effect due to slight changes in scale. Hill’s perspective system, which is more or less token, is hardly more credible than Wilson’s. For the figures in Hill’s painting to be illuminated as they are, the entire unseen portion of the assembly could not have existed. Each face is equally, and practically fully, lighted, including those witnessing the scene from the skylights. Since each portrait was copied by Hill from a photograph, this illogical lighting is understandable, but it does make for an admittedly lucid although unrealistic situation. The same characteristic is even more apparent in the Wilson photograph.

There is really no attempt to disguise the composite nature of Wilson’s photograph, which is very much in keeping with 20th-century attitudes such as honest use of material, delight in construction for its own sake, and multiple viewpoints. And while the Victorian viewer might not have been able to see this picture in just these terms, it would have required an incredible naiveté to judge it on completely naturalistic grounds. We know from the anonymous reviewer of the Aberdeen Portraits that a principal reaction to this kind of picture involved making it into a kind of puzzle or guessing game:

Of course . . . when you see a group of portraits published for public circulation and admiration, the belief naturally is that the persons represented must be “some-bodies” in the eyes of the local world; and the looker-on has a commendable desire to know “Who’s Who” in the picture. [The viewers] I daresay, are not without a fair share of this sort of literary or pictorial curiosity.8

Whatever the differences are, moreover, between how we see the Aberdeen Portraits and the manner in which a person in the 1850s saw it, it remains that from then on there was a steady increase in the frequency of this sort of picture. The most important person in this regard was the French photographer André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri.

Disdéri is not very well known for his role in the early development of photomontage. A portrait daguerreotypist, along with his wife, in Brest, Disdéri moved to Paris sometime in the early 1850s. Over the next decade he became quite famous for his marketing of the carte-de-visite format portrait. It is still uncertain exactly who may have first adapted the traditional visiting card to carry a photographic image, but Disdéri was the photographer most responsible for popularizing it.9 His fundamental innovation was the designing of a camera (more precisely, the modification of an earlier camera design) that would expose up to eight different images on a single negative plate. After processing, the negative could generate a positive print on which appeared all eight portraits. Each small portrait was cut from the large print, glued to a mounting board, and presented to the purchaser. Patenting this process in 1854,10 Disdéri brought the photographic studio portrait down to a price range acceptable to the middle classes, somewhat democratizing the photograph’s accessibility, and creating the first true mass-consumed photographic collectible. For the most part, the typical 19th-century carte-de-visite was prosaic and bland; at best, it was (and is) fascinating, casual despite its rigid formulization, and surprisingly eventful.

Disdéri was as much an entrepreneur and businessman as he was a self-styled romantic artist, with a flamboyant beard, balding pate and bohemian blouse. He seems to have been very conscious of the collecting potential of his cartes-de-visite, and flowing with the market, he patented the idea of the carte-de-visite “mosaique” in April of 1863. Essentially these are reduced versions of the kind of image represented by Wilson’s Aberdeen Portraits. Disdéri’s self-stated rationale for creating the mosaiques stresses his intent to satisfy a public demand:

[The] new process consists in taking prints, whether photographic, lithographic, gravure or whatever kind of design, and cutting out in silhouette the various personages or subjects and reuniting them in a group by placing or superimposing them alongside or above each other, in a fashion so as to form numerous recombinations, thereby obtaining images of any dimension and, for example, in the format of portraits currently called cartes-de-visite, one could place a number of personages whose quantity could increase to infinity. . . . [The technique would] furnish for sale from 2 or 3 personages up to a thousand for the same price as one pays today for the carte of a single figure.^^11

While it is possible that Disdéri was inspired to invent the mosaique by Wilson’s earlier print, the relative rarity of the latter image suggests that we cannot be certain of this. In his patent application, and in his various other writings, Disdéri does not cite his sources. He might simply have arrived independently at the notion of fabricating an image whose material was other photographs from working with his own uncut carte-de-visite sheets. The sense of the figural image existing as photograph is quite strong, yet the individual parts do not in the least divide up or destroy the sheet as a composite whole. The sequential or serial aspect of eight pictures in two rows, the appearance of the figures at the same position in the virtual space, and the stacked arrangement, all contribute to the flattening of the picture as a whole. When one or two of the separate figures are changed in scale, relative to the rest, as in Disdéri’s sheet of portraits of the Duc de Coimbre, a contradictory perspective is produced which begins to relieve the overall repetition and establishes a firmly alogical structural and pictorial whole.

The structure of the carte-de-visite mosaiqu is similar to that of the uncut sheets only insofar as they both exhibit an overall composition and are nearly spaceless. A still closer correspondence between the mosaique and Wilson’s photomontage is apparent when confronting, for instance, Disdéri’s mosaique of 321 contemporaries of Napoleon III—a mélange of faces, seen from different angles, all equally lighted, divorced from any naturalistic environment or situational context. Disdéri constructs an upward thrust that terminates with the hierarchically larger portraits of the Emperor, Empress and the Prince Impérial. Even a slight virtual space is thereby completely abnegated, much as in the Wilson print. The most incredible feature about this picture, and many others like it, is its size: photographically reduced from a fairly large working maquette made up of parts from single-figure cartes, the final format is the same as any other carte—roughly 21/4 by 31/2 inches.

Disdéri made numerous pictures of this sort, including at least two different ones of the Imperial Family. With far fewer figures to contend with, more variation and compositional interest could be maintained. Other types whom Disdéri placed into mosaique form included the French General Staff, doctors and dentists, actors and actresses, and clerics. One illustrating the dancers of the Opera is exemplary. First, the structure here diverges from the others in that each portrait is separated from its neighbors by a thin white band. No longer a mélange of personalities, the mosaique becomes a stacked group of medallion photographs, slightly overlapping and altogether divested of naturalism. The individual likenesses are presented directly as a collection mounted atop a dark background foil. Secondly, the companion piece to this particular carte is a formalistic and conceptual wonder: from the remains of presumably full-length portraits that were trimmed for the dancer’s portrait mosaique, Disdéri fashioned yet another picture, a symbolic portrait of the dancers. From a type of picture that is a caprice in itself, he made an even purer piece of whimsy—from just the opera dancer’s legs—some 60 years before Moholy’s Das Weltgebäude.

The most involved guessing-game carte mosaique was manufactured by the Ashford Brothers of London in the late 1860s: it shows “upwards of five hundred photographic portraits of the most celebrated personages of the age.” Printed on the carte was the hint that with a magnifier you could discern each portrait perfectly, thereby emphasizing the capricious or guessing-game element. Precisely how the Ashfords managed to obtain “photographic portraits” of Shakespeare and Washington is highly problematic, but it also partially demonstrates the public’s lack of differentiation between a photograph of a hand-drawn portrait and a purely photographic portrait.

The fashion for mosaiques lasted right up to the end of the century, especially in photographic advertising during the 1870s and 1880s. And the mosaique adapted itself to whatever size or format was most popular at a given time. E.B. Fay’s #4 Musical, of ca. 1875, is representative of a variety of straightforward American primitivism in this genre. Town fathers from almost every American town on both coasts had had their portraits made much like this. No overlappings, no crowding together, and essentially no real build-up of a homogeneous mass of faces: the appearance is rather like a plate of a scrapbook. To assist the viewer further in his or her deciphering of the likenesses, Fay added small enumerations of the heads whose identities were printed on the reverse of the cabinet card. The game or puzzle factor still exists, as in Wilson or Disdéri, but it is simplified in number and arrangement—decidedly at the expense of pictorial fascination.

Bradley and Rulofson’s Celebrities of 1876, on the other hand, is one of the more incredible and complex constructions in this tradition. It shows many of the characteristics of Wilson’s or Disdéri’s mosaiques, as a regular, formal structure of a multiplicity of photographs, but it also presents the constituent pictures and bits of pictures in greatly varying relational scales. While many of Disdéri’s composites, because of their internal congruity of scale, only produce the effect of an overall pattern or matrix, Bradley and Rulofson’s cabinet card offers an almost kaleidoscopic vision of photographic images that is far denser and richer in variety than any that preceded it. Consequently, the variety of scales allows the puzzling nature of the personages to be more entertaining and complex. The desire to identify each personality remains, but there is a greater fascination with the sheer visual game involved in attempting to find the small heads peering out from behind gigantic visages in an almost entirely random construction.

The visually dynamic qualities of this picture are all the more obvious when compared to the epitome of late 19th-century portrait mosaiques. Made in Japan around 1885, approximately 1700 oriental children’s faces are packed onto a sheet roughly 8 by 10 inches. The identity of the photographer is unknown, but one of the earlier collectors of this image had written in marginalia that the estimate of 1700 heads is, indeed, quite precise.12 Its audacity is probably its only saving grace. If, however, the Bradley and Rulofson is compared to any of the photomontages by Paul Citroen, who worked during the Dada period, certain similarities of approach are apparent, even if, of course, the subject matter is decidedly different. (While Citroen is making a statement about the modern urban landscape that could only be said with photomontage, a similar implication on the part of Bradley and Rulofson is a matter of conjecture.) In both pictures the treatment of the material, the compositional elements, and the structuring of an entity that is entirely pictorial in character are remarkably alike.

The so-called “golden period” of photomontage—the period just after the First World War—did not just witness the fabrication of restatements of things accomplished a half century earlier. The visual productions using the techniques of photomontage and combination printing which were made by the Dadaists and others were far removed in significance from those produced in the last century. Yet the structures, the techniques, and the blatantly irreverent attitude toward the photograph as an object—as a material to create other and diverse pictures—are essentially the same in both camps. When Man Ray commented that “a certain amount of contempt for the material employed to express an idea is indispensable to the purest realization of this idea,”13 he might as well have been postulating a description of either.

The 19th century was replete with a great variety of photographic and para-photographic techniques for creating what has come to be called photomontage: combination printing, cutting and pasting and rephotographing, sequentially exposing negatives, and just plain “collaging.” In 1947 Moholy-Nagy listed his set of photographic varieties,14 including “photomontage.” He also coined another category, the “automatic photomontage,” which includes multiple exposures on a single negative. This layering of realities produced images which proffered new interpretations of the world by transparency, juxtaposition, and the creation of a single image out of a number of other images. Although it is different in construction and concept, multiply exposed single imagery is fundamentally as much a species of photomontage as any other type. Yet it is precisely the mode of constructing such images—elements of looseness and accident, and the mechanistic aspect of pictorialization through multiple exposure—that demands a separate critical viewing. Suffice it to say that, like the more mechanistic photographic montage, “automatic photomontage” also partook of an active and responsive tradition well before the 20th century, from the double exposures of Dr. Thomas Keith and Rejlander, through the “spirit” photography of Mumler and others, to the accidents of the Kodak snapshooter and the caprices of Stieglitz’ Bubble Book of 1905.

The entire gamut of photomontage during the 19th century constituted an active and vital tradition of picture-making that was both photographic and non-photographic. Naturalistic composites such as were done by Henry Peach Robinson shared equally in this tradition as did the formalistic constructions of Wilson, Disdéri, and others. Robinson’s greatest difficulty was a technical inability to expose both the sky and the landscape on a single plate. This, and his need to arrange complicated tableaux, led him to the use of combination printing. His primary concern, however, was with the representation of a possible, and probably everyday, scene. John Ruskin, when viewing one of Robinson’s photographs, said that “all true landscape, whether simple or exalted, depends primarily for its interest on connection with humanity.”15

During the 1930s, John Heartfield’s concern was certainly not with the probable when he illustrated the cover of the German edition of Upton Sinclair’s Nach der Sintflut. With any stretch of the imagination, however, the possibilities of such a scene in the “real world” are not unbelievable. The editor of the Photographic News, in September of 1865, had stated that “all which the eye of the camera might actually see composed in one group or scene in nature, it may legitimately render, piecemeal, if its appliances are unequal to the rendering of the whole in one photographic operation.”16 A logical consequence of this statement might be to accept the Heartfield composite as valid. This might be extrapolated into a sort of science-fiction of photography whose objective correlative is totally mental, a sub-genre of photomontage that was quite popular in fantasy postcards during the first decade of this century.

My principal object has been to describe what was a fairly well marked tradition in the history of photography and of pictures. The Dadaist picture-makers continually avoided the issue of their sources for such pictures. It would be difficult to expect that with the volume and variety of earlier photomontage they were never exposed to its devices, even if on a casual basis. The visual correspondences and structural similarities between work of the last century and that of the Dadaists are surprisingly close, even though quite possibly they are coincidental. Again, neither the Dadaists nor any of their critics ever referred to this earlier material. Raoul Hausmann, however, was the only member of the modern movement who signaled a partial indebtedness to earlier exemplars. After claiming to have invented photomontage in 1918, he explained that a Baltic seacoast vacation was the occasion for his inspiration.

In nearly all the homes was found, hung on the wall, a colored lithograph representing the image of a grenadier in front of barracks. In order to make this military memento more personal, a photographic portrait of the soldier was glued over the head. It was like a flash; I saw instantly that one could make pictures composed entirely of cut-up photos.17

What Hausmann had seen was obviously a rather naive and primitive example of a vernacular personalization of a military costume plate.

The commercialization of this order of imagery can easily be dated back to the late 1860s, when lithographers like René de Moraine drew just such faceless portraits of military figures for photographers like Pineau, the idea being that the photographer would take the soldier’s photographic portrait and glue it above the shoulders and under the casquette. Possibly this was the type of picture Hausmann saw around 1918, and possibly he did not realize that there was never a lithographed head over which the photograph was glued. This one documented source for Dada photomontage constitutes the single case of a connection between the 19th-century photomonteurs and the modern movement. Otherwise, the early tradition of photomontage—of making pictures out of other pictures—is a self-contained category, even if it is significant in what it posits about the early history of photography and fascinating unto itself. It might, on the contrary, be an undocumented and undocumentable source for the avant-garde of the 1920s.

Robert A. Sobieszek is associate curator at the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House. The exhibition “Composite Imagery, 1850–1935: The Early History of Photomontage” is currently on view there.



1. See Artforum, September 1978, pp. 58–65.

2. Anonymous, “Aberdeen Portraits Number 1, A group of Upwards of One Hundred Portraits by G.W. Wilson: a Critical Notice,” pamphlet, n.d., 4pp. (Reprinted from “Gossip from Aberdeen,” Banffshire Journal, 26 May 1857). A copy of this pamphlet can be found along with the Wilson photomontage in the Johnston Album in the collections of the International Museum of Photography.

3. Loc. cit.

4. The idea of pictures within pictures is not solely the domain of the photographic arts. Disregarding traditional paintings of Salon and cabinet views of the 17th and 18th centuries, paintings including other pictorial art works as their subject matter were quite popular in the 19th century. The still-life paintings by the Americans John Haberle and John Frederick Peto are wet known. Also cf. Manet’s second attempt at frontispiece etching commented on by Theodore Reif, “The Symbolism of Manet’s Frontispiece Etchings,” Burlington Magazine, CIV 710 (May 1962), pp. 182–186. The etchings are dated 1862 Regarding the inclusion of a print within the print, Reif comments that although it could have been found in the studio at the time, it was not to be considered as an object “to be used in creating other pictures, . . . but as finished pictures themselves,” p. 184. The distinctions are finely made, but the point is that the included picture was somewhat autonomous and not merely a part of the recorded subject of the print.

5. For John Kay, see Edward Dwight, John Kay, Original Portraits, Utica (New York), 1964, exhibition catalogue for an exhibition at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute. Also cf. John Kay, Kay’s Original Portraits, Edinburgh, 1837–1838, 2 vols. A second edition of these plates and their accompanying biographical sketches and anecdotes appeared as A Series of Original Portraits and Caricature Etchings, Edinburgh, 1877, 2 vols. The seeming popularity of Kay’s prints and the fact that the first edition of his work appeared as late as 1838 would indicate at least a high probability of their being known to Wilson.

6. The Boilly lithograph appeared as a tipped-in photographic copy in Talbot’s Pencil of Nature, London, 1844–1846, plate XI. The descriptive text to this plate states, “We have here the copy of a Parisian caricature, which is probably well known to many of my readers. As kinds of engravings may be copied by photographic means: and this application of the art is a very important one, not only as producing in general nearly fac-simile copies, but because it enables us at pleasure to alter the scale, and to make the copies as much larger or smaller than the originals as we may desire.” That Talbot considered this print to be well known would suggest Boilly’s popularity in Great Britain during the 1840s. For a discussion of this particular Boilly, see Peinture française, 1770–1830: Trésors des musées du Nord de la France, Calais [?], 1975, exhibition catalogue, entry 15, pp. 43–44.

7. For David Octavius Hill, see David Bruce, Sun Pictures: The Hill-Adamson Calotypes, London, 1973 and Katherine Michaelson, A Centenary Exhibition of the Work of David Octavius Hill (1802–1870) and Robert Adamson (1821–1848), Edinburgh, 1970.

8. Anonymous, “Aberdeen Portraits Number 1 . . .,” p.1.

9. Cf. Helmut and Alison Gernsheim, A History of Photography from the Camera Obscure to the Beginning of the Modern Era, New York, 1969, pp. 293–303. For a discussion of the economics of the carte-de-visite and Disdéri’s role in it, see Giséle Freund, La photographie en France au dix-neuvième siècle, Paris, 1936, pp. 78–81.

10. André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri, L’Art de la photographie, Paris, 1862, p. 146: “ . . . carte de visite (que j’ai fait breveter en 1854).”

11. French patent no. BF 58327, dated 21 April 1863. The original text reads: “Mon nouveau procédé consiste à prendre des épreuves de photographie ou lithographie ou gravure ou dessin quelconque, de decouper en silhouette les divers personnages ou sujects et de les réunir en groupe en les plaçant ou les superposantà coté ou au-dessus les uns des autres, de fawn à former des réunions nombreuses, d’obtenir ainsi des images de touter dimensions et sur le format par exemple des portraits actuels dits carte de visite, l’on peut faire des séries de personnages dont le nombre peut s’élever jusqu’à l’infini. Ce perfectionnement a pour but le développement de cette industrie en pouvant fournir au commerce depuis 2 ou 3 personnages jusqu’à mile pour le même prix qu’on paie aujourd’hui la carte d’un seul personnage. Les nouvelles cartes que jai l’intention de livrer au commerce porteront le nom de MOSAIQUES.”

12. Cf. Michel F. Braive, The Photograph: A Social History, New York 1966, p. 178.

13. Cited in Aaron Scharf, Creative Photography, New York. 1965, p 58

14. See László Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion, Chicago, 1947 (6th printing, 1961), pp. 207–208. As early as 1925, Moholy was interested in the “penetrative” aspects of multiple exposures; see Painting Photography Film, Cambridge, 1967 (reprint and translation of the 1927 edition of Malerei, Fotografie, Film), pp. 35–36.

15. Cited in Anonymous, “Mr. Robinson’s New Picture,” Photographic News, VII267 (16 October 1863), p. 494. About a year earlier Ruskin had stated, when viewing Robinson’s Bringing Home the May, that the “imaginative work looks always as if it had been gathered straight from nature, whereas the unimaginative shows its points and knots, and is visibly composition.” Cited in Anonymous, “Bringing Home the May,” Photographic News, VI 218 (7 November 1862), p. 535.

16. Anonymous, “Pictorial Photography and Combination Printing,” Photographic News, IX 365 (1 September 1865), p. 409. (This writer’s emphasis.)

17. Raoul Hausmann, “Peinture nouvelle et photomontage,” Courrier Dada, Paris, 1958, pp. 41–42. The original text reads: “Dans presque toute les maisons se trouvait, accrochée au mur une lithographie en couleurs représentant sur un fond de Caserne, l’image d’un grenadier. Pour rendre cememento militaire plus personel, on avail collé à la place de la tête un portrait—photographique du soldat. Ce fut comme un éclair, on pourrait—je le vis instantanément—faire des tableaux entièrement composes de photos dé-coupées.”