Babies were rarely photographed with a parent. This unusually lively portrait of a infant and mother, photographed by George E. Day between 1896 and 1902, captures a mother’s happiness and pride. The baby seems bemused.
Faster exposure techniques developed toward the end of the 19th century enabled photographers to capture more candid expressions and attitudes. Photographers often used the term “instantaneous” to attract mothers.
The oversized mount with its less obtrusive studio advertising also indicates a late-century origin.
While I’ve yet to come across a carte de visite of an infant, the era of the cabinet card photograph brought about an explosion of baby portraits.
For some reason, most babies were photographed solo. The prodigy was usually dressed in an extremely long white garment, probably a christening gown.
Here is a typical cabinet card photograph of a baby by the Julius Hebbel Studio. Hebbel babies were often photographed on one of his elaborate wicker seats.
Julius Hebbel (1853-1905) opened a photography studio in Baltimore in the later 1870s, and the business continued to operate under his name well after his death. I have also found references to Hebbel as a photographer in Westminster, Maryland.
Hebbel was born in Germany and immigrated to Baltimore with his family. His father was a grocer.
Post-1900 card photographs usually have larger, more understated black or gray mounts with a small,unobtrusive studio mark, sometimes embossed, sometimes printed. This toddler’s portrait was taken around 1920.
I have a soft spot for Julius Hebbel because this family photo was the first on which I noticed a photographer’s name.
Hebbel is buried in Baltimore’s Loudon Park Cemetery. Even his headstone reflects the flair of his signature mark on the photograph’s mount.