British photographic history

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Exhibition: We called to see you / from 17 September

A new temporary exhibition featuring Victorian and Edwardian cartes-de-visite and cabinet card portraits opens at the College of Optometrists in London on Sunday 17 September. The distinctive feature about this small exhibition is that all the portraits are of people wearing spectacles or vision aids, or they relate to blind or visually impaired people. We Called to See You: Visual Aspects of Victorian Cartes-de-Visite Portrait Photographs features items from the internationally renowned British Optical Association Museum, supplemented by extensive loans from the Ron Cosens Collection in association with the website

Victorian cartes-de-visite, first patented in 1854, were a novel way of sharing a photographic studio portrait... and many surviving examples feature spectacles, providing us with an interesting social record of the eyewear of the time and the manner in which the sitters cultivated their self-image. They were the first photographs to be published en masse and, hence, form a particularly useful early record of real people wearing glasses.

The launch of the exhibition coincides with the College's annual participation in the Open House London event, and the College will be open to visitors that afternoon between 1pm-5pm, free of charge, with no booking required. Normally, however, the exhibition will only be open on Mondays-Fridays during office hours, by prior appointment.

The College of Optometrists
42 Craven Street

Exhibition Website

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