An Actor in Costume, by Camille Silvy, London, ca. 1860

Actor, by C Silvy
Actor, by C Silvy

Here’s another rather rare image – a portrait of what appears to be an actor by Camille Silvy. Camille Silvy was a French photographer who moved to London in 1858 and opened a studio at 38 Porchester Terrace, Bayswater. He photographed society clients, including many members of the British royal family, as well as royals of other nations (the queen of Hawaii among others). According to Wikipedia,

He closed his studio and returned to France in 1868. He himself believed that his nervous system had been damaged by exposure to potassium cyanide in the darkroom but it more likely that he suffered from manic depression. The last thirty years of his life were spent in a succession of hospitals, sanatoria and convalescent homes.

So he had a working career in London of approximately 10 years, in which he made over 17,000 sittings – rather productive for a short career. That’s about six portraits a day, 300+ days a year. According to the Wikipedia entry, the National Portrait Gallery in London has his daybooks, which include 12,000 photo illustrations to accompany the records of sittings. I’d love to visit them and see if I could find out who this actor was. Maybe next year when I return the favor to visit my friends Peter and Mirza who came to see me in Paris.

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