|At first glance this 1870s vintage carte de visite could easily be mistaken for a simple period photograph depicting two
gentlemen of the era who chose to have their photographic portraits taken together. On a bit closer inspection one notes
that these two men bear a certain resemblance to each other and this fact led the seller that I purchased it from to state that
the image depicted two brothers - one in military uniform and the other in civilian dress.
That these two men resemble each other is due to the fact that they are in fact the same man. Although practical commercial
photography had been around for some 30 years by the 1870s it was still a novelty and many aspects of the art quite
mysterious to the general public. Photographers where quick to lean that images they took could be manipulated in ways
that produced photographs that defied explanation by the lay public. The double exposure was one of the most common
forms of such manipulation and this photograph is an excellent study of the type.
The image is very well done and only the closest examination reveals the method of the photographer - S. Long. When
enlarged as here one can make out a slight doubling of the pattern of the table cloth on the side next to the uniformed figure.
This and the slightly darker painted molding just above the table itself are the only giveaways to Long's slight of hand.
Considering the scale at which he worked and the methods available to him, Long's attempt at special effects was quite good.
The image itself shows a sergeant of the Royal Artillery standing at a table and looking down towards himself in civilian
clothing. One can guess as to the reason behind this image but I like to think that the sergeant was at the end of his
enlistment at the time and chose to have the "new" civilian version of himself photographed looking back at his time with
the colours knowing that his life would very soon be changing in a profound way.
Carte de Visite
S. Long - Photographer
75 Wellington Street, Woolwich, England