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I am seeking information about this quarter-plate ambrotype of a young lad. There appears to be an etched signature above his left arm. Constant? 

Although this was bought in the UK, I suppose it might be French.

Does anyone recognize this signature?

Many thanks,

David McGreevy

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Comment by David McGreevy on January 20, 2017 at 22:27

Thank you, Isaac, much appreciated!

David

Comment by Izaak Boone on January 16, 2017 at 20:47

I have another suggestion. Your ambrotype could be made by Constant Delessert. Members of this family also lived in Paris, one of them was a director of the Police. Some family lived in the Hague, the Netherlands. One of them was a close friend to the Dutch king William II and fought at the cross roads of Quatre Bras. That is why Wellington had just enough time to leave the ball in Brussels and win the battle of Waterloo. 

Benjamin Constant was the philosopher who corresponded with the Dutch writer Belle van Zuylen (Madame de Charrière). 

Constant DELESSERT

Born: 1806
Deceased: 1876 Lausanne.
(Actually: Adrien Constant de Rebecque) Originated from a Vaud noble family. Cousin of Benjamin Constant. Officer of the Swiss Garden in Paris 1825-1830. Return to Switzerland. Justice of peace, member of the Grand-Council of Vaud. Marriage with Louise-Julie Delessert, who came from a wealthy family. D. was interested in photography for about 1850, he was an amateur. The first photographs of Lausannes are from D. He developed various technical procedures, which are noted in France and England. In 1859, D. exhibited his recordings in the Salon in Paris. Member of the Société Française de Photographie since 1858. He founded the Atelier Photographique du Grand-Pont in 1862, he sold it in 1867 to A. Schmid. A collection of his daguerreotypes can be found in the Musée Historique de Lausanne.

Comment by David McGreevy on January 10, 2017 at 21:54

Thanks for your intriguing idea, Jane!

I quite like thinking that the sitter left a message of endearment on the plate; my constant love?

Photographers did etch their signatures on the plate. It seems to be rare, and I have only seen a few examples, all on daguerreotypes, never on an ambrotype.

In this example, the entire etching is smaller than 1cm., so I assume it was done with some sort of needle.

Best Regards,

David

Comment by Jane Hutchinson on January 10, 2017 at 17:03

Hello David,

I just wonder if, rather than a signature, it is a message of endearment? I speculate, but perhaps from the young man to the recipient of the image? The word 'constant' is followed by what appears to be an 'x' (possibly a 'kiss'?). Although I imagine it would have been unusual for the sitter to have the opportunity to inscribe the image, but not impossible.

Was it usual practice for photographers to etch their signatures into the images? I'm not sure I have seen any.

Thank you for posting the image. It has raised what for me are interesting questions about photographers' practice and their desire and ability to proclaim authorship.

Best regards,

Jane

Comment by David McGreevy on January 9, 2017 at 7:57

Thanks, Helena,

I was wondering about Eugene Constant, but am unaware that he made ambrotypes.

Maybe there is another example out there...

David

Comment by Helena Pérez on January 9, 2017 at 7:51

Dear David,

Eugéne Constant was Frech, member of the Roman Photographic School and of the Heliographic Society.

There's no a lot of information about his biography, but you can find out on the catalogue "Roma 1850. Il circolo dei pittoti fotografi del caffé Greco".  There you can find the signature.

He was know for their calotypes on Rome (views, architecture, etc.), so it's very interesting this ambrotype.

Helena Pérez

Comment by Helena Pérez on January 9, 2017 at 7:51

Dear David,

Eugéne Constant was Frech, member of the Roman Photographic School and of the Heliographic Society.

There's no a lot of information about his biography, but you can find out on the catalogue "Roma 1850. Il circolo dei pittoti fotografi del caffé Greco".  There you can find the signature.

He was know for their calotypes on Rome (views, architecture, etc.), so it's very interesting this ambrotype.

Helena Pérez

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