Name Amon First

Ambrotype

When the background is placed against the glass and not against the emulsion, an impression of depth is formed by the space between the light and dark areas.

Then the complete assembly is placed in a frame or case, just like the daguerreotypes that ambrotypes are often confused with. This is because the aesthetic aspects of the two processes are similar, although ambrotypes show less detail.

Ambrotypes, comprising a glass base, are fragile objects and may crack, break or even become opaque over time. The collodion emulsion, protective varnish and the dark varnish may also suffer from various alterations due to their nature and how they are preserved. Most common are flaking of the dark varnish, lifting or reticulation of the collodion layer and silver tarnishing. Once the dark background alters, the picture losses its legibility and seems to disappear. Less fragile varieties using different kinds of supports as a thin iron sheet (tintype) or a wax-canvas (pannotype) were developed.

Images from the top:
Anonyme, Portrait de famille, s.d. Collections Roger-Viollet
Détail agrandi x 2 © ARCP / Mairie de Paris / Jean-Philippe Boiteux, 2015.
Détail agrandi x 8 © ARCP / Mairie de Paris / Jean-Philippe Boiteux, 2015.

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