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originally, a calling card, especially one with a photographic portrait mounted on it. Immensely popular in the mid-19th century, the carte-de-visite was touted by the Parisian portrait photographer Andre-Adolphe-Eugene Disderi, who patented the method in 1854. Disderi used a four-lensed camera, which made eight 3.5- by 2.5-inch (8.89- by 6.35-cm) negatives on one full-sized plate. The large print made from that plate was cut up into small portraits, which were separately mounted on cards measuring about 4 by 3 inches. These cards were inexpensive relative to other forms of portraiture, as eight different poses could be made at one sitting and the images required no retouching.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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