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date: 24 April 2017

The Social Construction of the Photographic Portrait in 19th-Century Rio de la Plata

Summary and Keywords

With the arrival of the daguerreotype in Río de la Plata, in 1840, the photography industry was immediately monopolized by portrait photographers. By 1850 there were already more than ten daguerreotype photographers in both Buenos Aires and Montevideo, the two main cities on either side of the river. The majority were traveling foreigners, who frequently moved their studios between the two banks. Local society welcomed this new technology with enthusiasm and praised its representational perfection and its powerful verisimilitude. However, the high cost of the first daguerreotypes made portraiture an item of prestige and social differentiation, reserved only for those who were well-to-do. Far from the instantaneous photography of the early 21st century, daguerreotype portraits involved lengthy exposure times. This meant that they were highly staged, according to the attitudes, expectations, and motivations (conscious or unconscious), of the photographer, the subject, and the society in which these works were created. Through expertly arranged costumes, scenery, and poses, the bourgeoisie of Río de la Plata communicated and immortalized the prejudices, behaviors, and opinions specific to their class.

With the emergence of paper photography and the growth of standardized formats, such as the carte de visite, c. 1855, photography transcended class boundaries for the first time. In this period the portrait acquired a commemorative function associated with the consolidation of new genres, such as post-mortem portraits, wedding portraits, and First Communion portraits, pictures meant to immortalize important family events. During this time large photography studios appeared, with new and luxurious facilities, in which the photographic compositions would become much more sophisticated and theatrical.

For the local elite the decision to have their portraits taken was an act of expressing their identity; for certain social subjects, however, being photographed, invariably through the imposition of the operator, and with no agency in the representation of their own image, photography functioned as an instrument of privilege used to construct otherness. During this period the development of disciplines such as anthropology, criminology, and psychiatry, which sought to record and classify everything that did not conform with the normalized homogeneity of the time, made photography the ideal tool to identify those “others” for whom there was no space in respectable society or who fulfilled a negative role in it.

Keywords: photography, portraits, bourgeois, Río de la Plata, representations of otherness, Argentine photography, Uruguayan photography, cartes de visite

With the arrival of the daguerreotype1 in Río de la Plata,2 in 1840, barely six months after the announcement of its invention in Paris,3 the photography industry was immediately monopolized by portrait photographers. By 1850 there were already more than ten daguerreotype photographers in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, the two main cities on either side of the river. The majority were traveling foreigners, who set up studios in family homes or in spaces near the city center, frequently alternating locations between the two banks.

The protests in opposition to photography that confronted painters and daguerreotype photographers in Europe were scarce in Río de la Plata, where the artistic field was still in development.4 The new technology was welcomed enthusiastically by the local society, who praised its representational perfection and its powerful verisimilitude. On February 21, 1849, Marquita Sánchez de Thompson,5 a privileged witness to the first photographic trials of Abbé Luis Compte, in Montevideo, wrote to her son, Juan Thompson:

Yesterday we saw a miracle. The execution of a daguerreotype is a remarkable thing. Imagine, a camera obscure in which the plate, already prepared with the ingredients you already know, is put into place . . . and after all of these preparations, you see on the plate the image it has captured as if it were drawn with a black pencil and with such perfection and precision that it would be impossible to obtain by any other medium.6

For his part, the Uruguayan scientist Teodoro Vilardebó, after seeing Compte’s daguerreotype of the facade of the Iglesia Matriz, in Montevideo, made during the first public demonstration of the invention in the city, argued in a lengthy column in El Nacional, that it would be impossible “for any artist, no matter how skilled, to create a more exact copy of that monument, even if he devoted lots of time and work to the task.”7

Faithfulness and precision were also the values that the first professional photographers on these coasts emphasized most in their advertisements. John Elliot, the first daguerreotypist to arrive in Buenos Aires, promised in an advertisement published in August of 1843, in the Gaceta Mercantil, that “those who would like to have their portrait made can be sure of receiving a perfect likeness, and that it will be more durable than any painting.”8 Luis Terragno, a photographer active in Montevideo around 1851, assured customers that his portraits “achieve a perfect likeness and have such an expression in the eyes that until now no artist has been able to rival them.”9

As evidenced by these testimonials, in the mindset of 19th-century society, photography and reality soon became two elements in a symbiotic relationship, in which each component only acquired complete meaning in reference to the other. William Ivins argues that “the nineteenth-century began with the belief that what was rational was true and would end believing that what could be seen in a photo was the truth.”10 However, the potential to manipulate images, so obvious to us in the digital age, was not at all absent from the first photographic experiences. Far from the instantaneity of early-21st-century photography, daguerreotype portraits demanded long exposure times, which, by 1844, oscillated between twenty seconds and a minute and a half, depending on the conditions of the light.11 This meant that they had to be staged and planned beforehand, according to the attitudes, expectations, and motivations (conscious or unconscious) of the photographer, the subject, and the society in which these works were created. Roland Barthes asserts that the head support, a device commonly used to immobilize the sitter during the exposure time, was the pedestal to the statue that the subject would become through his or her portrait; it was “the corset of his imaginary essence.”12

The Daguerreotype and the Emergence of the Bourgeois Photographic Portrait

During this period the society of Río de la Plata was divided into two large sectors: the cultured upper class, whose members, through some combination of family lineage, education, and wealth, enjoyed prestige and power within the community, and the working class—laborers, who were, in general, financially dependent and had no say in political decisions. The Río de la Plata bourgeoisie adopted European lifestyles, tastes, and customs, albeit without being able to reach Europe’s splendor, and felt a great need to distinguish themselves from the lower classes, who sought to rise in status and copied bourgeois customs. Despite the enthusiastic reception that photography enjoyed in Río de la Plata, it was not initially accessible to everyone. At first, the high cost of the early daguerreotypes made the medium a luxury reserved only for those who were well-to-do. Thus, photographic portraits became an item of prestige and a tool of social differentiation. As Giselle Freund suggests, having one’s portrait done was “one of those rare symbolic acts through which members of the rising social classes manifested their social ascent, both to themselves and to society, and situated themselves among those who enjoyed social esteem.”13 In these images, constructed through a mutual agreement between photographer and subject, the elite of Río de la Plata communicated and immortalized the prejudices, behaviors, and attitudes specific to their class.

Photographic portraits offered a great variety of ways to represent social and economic status. Through expertly staged and controlled studio environments, these images were able to capture a homogenous and uniform representation of the sitter that followed a series of established standards in accordance with the new visual order of bourgeois society. One of the most commonly used indicators of class in the first photographs was clothing. There are practically no examples, at least in the daguerreotype era, in which subjects pose in anything but their Sunday best. Clothing, whether owned or borrowed, was always impeccable. It was also a crucial ingredient in the construction of the character that the subject hoped to portray, and one the photographers paid special attention to. The studios of the era frequently had dressing rooms, in addition to a large quantity of clothes for loan intended to construct the desired representations of prosperity and dignity.14 Portrait photographers also took great care to emphasize jewelry. On the daguerreotypes themselves, jewels, buttons, chain watches, and the hilt of walking sticks were commonly embellished with a golden oil that enhanced their brightness. Handpainting was an expensive special feature, but it was much appreciated by the clientele of the time. Photographers also painted the cheeks, hands, neck, and dresses of women and girls as well as certain decorative objects, such as flowers, tablecloths or backdrops. In the first portraits taken in Argentina, during the term of Juan Manuel de Rosas, men would also have colored their divisa punzó (a red band demonstrating support for Rosas), which they were obligated to wear in the lapel of their coat.15

Clothing was also an important component of the so-called occupational portrait, in which the subjects were photographed together with tools, instruments, or uniforms that clearly indicated their profession. The bourgeois occupations in this region excluded any kind of manual labor and demanded a certain level of education, capital, and, above all, independence. This included a host of professions, which proved especially difficult to represent visually.16 For this reason, during the daguerreotype era, there are very few photographs that provide explicit clues about the profession of the subject. However, there are exceptions, such as military portraits. In these pictures the subjects are photographed in their uniforms (usually full-dress uniforms, including weapons, medals and decorations), which, once the photo was developed, were carefully colored and highlighted. Battle injuries were also displayed with pride: a pair of crutches or an amputated appendage would not be hidden. On the contrary, these were prominently featured as a symbol of duty accomplished.

Estancieros (ranch owners) dressed in gaucho attire were also prominent in 19th-century Río de la Plata portraits. One of the oldest known images depicting this occupation is a daguerreotype, most likely taken in the Buenos Aires town of Exaltación de la Cruz, c. 1860, that shows four Irish estancieros dressed in typical gaucho clothing. In these types of portraits, the appropriate atmosphere was sometimes achieved by dressing the subject in traditional gaucho attire and placing him in front of a backdrop painted with images of the countryside; other times, the photographer simply brought the equipment to the natural environment of the subject to photograph him with his horse or in front of his property. Yet, it was most common to capture these photos in a studio, in an environment of fine upholstered furniture or backdrops with architectural motifs, which created a strange synthesis of countryside and city, civilization and barbarity.

Scenery was another critical component of staging within the studio portrait. The photographic ateliers were decorated in the fashion of a bourgeois parlor and were equipped with a large variety of real objects and props to reproduce the intimacy of an upper-class home of the time. Austerity in decoration indicated austerity in finances; objects were a symbol of status and achievement. However, the sumptuous and refined furniture that adorned local 19th-century portraits were very often brought over by the photographers themselves from their countries of origin, or imported from Europe from photography catalogs, and rarely had anything to do with the typical interiors of houses in Río de la Plata. Rather, the furnishings adopted by the majority of these studios were a response to the Eurocentric tastes of the vernacular elites, who imitated the styles of the Old Continent in these photographs. Through an accumulation of columns, balustrades, curtains, chairs, and decorated tables as well as other material indicators of cultural capital, such as books, photographic albums, musical instruments, and firearms, the studios of the era provided a theatrical frame in which the subject of the portrait could perform a role.

Painted backdrops were another important element of the scenery. Initially, the use of these backdrops was a means of creating a hierarchy within photographic art, bringing it closer to the bourgeois pictorial tradition. As opposed to medieval painting, which used a plain backdrop (usually gold to neutralize the figure and place it against the infinite), more elaborate backdrops appeared in bourgeois art, including architectural elements or landscapes, that situated the subject in the context of the tangible world. Photography revived and appropriated the use of painted backdrops within bourgeois art and transformed them into an integral component of photographic portraiture. These enormous paintings could be done on heavy fabric or thin, bendable canvas and were sometimes several meters wide and tall. Moreover, these backdrops made it possible to remove the sitters from the monotonous reality of the studio and stage a scene that was appropriate to the narrative imagined by the subjects or by the photographers themselves Realistic architectural motifs were common, and, in combination with the most typical scenic objects in photographic studios, produced a plausible fusion between subject and background. Yet, the majority of painted backdrops created a spatial disconnection, and sometimes even a temporal one, which allowed the subject to insert him- or herself into a new, usually odd or unreal context. For example, idealized depictions of the countryside, which contrasted strongly with the heavy wooden furniture of the ateliers and the formal dress of the subjects being represented, were common. Sometimes, the illusion presented was so absurd that it forced subjects to transform their own image in order to insert themselves into the fantasy proposed by this imaginary context.

The third major element of the staging of the studio portrait was the pose. A pose, in its most general sense, is the way a subject responds to the presence of an implied observer. By imitating a certain mental image, or assuming an imaginary personality and projecting that through the body or with gestures, the subject should become, for a moment, a frozen image. As with the painted backdrops, the photographic poses initially imitated those of painted portraits, in an attempt to associate this new photographic language to the already legitimized arts. But, while in painting the pose could easily be corrected and improved by the artist, in photography this was much more difficult because it was necessary to immobilize the subject with uncomfortable head supports that hardened and froze the person’s features. Posture had to be carefully planned and rehearsed beforehand, according to the mutual expectations of the subject and the photographer. Fulya Ertem suggests that a strong connection between photography and theater existed in these early photographs and contends that the pose approached a sort of mimicry.17

In bourgeois portrait photography the pose was a fundamental instrument for expressing hierarchical relationships. It is common to find portraits of ladies, children, or gentlemen posing with their servants and subordinates in these photos. If clothing functioned as a primary indicator of social demarcation, then the pose, without a doubt, assumed the fundamental narrative role within the portrait. Whether a servant offering mate to his master, a private bringing a letter to his superior officer, or a nanny posing next to the children she cares for, the subordinated subjects in these images are meant to represent a character that responds to the expectations and aspirations of his or her master or employer. Paradoxically, these types of pictures would, for a long time, be the only images in which the lower classes were represented, as they would not be able to afford studio portraits of their own almost until the following century.

Poses were also essential for representing relationships of both kinship and friendship. These ties were expressed in different ways, from a simple gesture, such as a hand on a shoulder or two arms interlocked, to more elaborate compositions, such as a portrait of a widow or a daughter holding a photograph of her absent husband or father. Frequently, the pose also communicated roles that the society of the time had assigned to each of the subjects. For example, it is rare to come across photographs of fathers posing with their children. More often, the mother was photographed with the children, thereby demonstrating the traditional role assigned to women. When children were old enough to pose alone, their portraits were taken following the same standards used for adults: in rigid, excessively formal poses, dressed in their finest clothes and surrounded by symbolic objects that indicated their social status. In other words, they were represented as miniature versions of their parents. Another formal characteristic that reflects this is that the photographer rarely lowered the camera to the level of the child, but rather tended to pose children on a piece of furniture or a platform in order to photograph them at the same height as the adults. By the end of the century, a new cultural perception of childhood that celebrated it as an important life chapter inspired new ways of photographing children, emphasizing their individuality. From then on, the perspective of the camera changed, and more relaxed poses began to appear, along with toys, miniature furniture, costumes, and play clothes.

The Appearance of Paper Photography and the Popularization of the Photographic Portrait

The first technological transformation in the photographic field occurred c. 1851, with the invention of the collodion wet-plate process. This process, conceived by Frederick Scott Archer, marked the appearance of the ambrotype and the ferrotype, unique images, like the daguerreotype, but developed on a more affordable support (glass and tin, respectively), which reduced the price of portraits considerably. However, it was not until the mid-1850s, with the emergence of paper photography and the rise of standardized formats such as the carte de visite, which allowed for mass reproduction at a reasonable price, that photographic portraiture truly transcended class boundaries.18 This new technique arrived on the coast of Río de la Plata in 1855, with the French photographer Federico Artigue, only a year after its appearance in Europe,19 and prompted new social classes to enter the studios, both voluntarily and not. This popularization of photography would broaden and enrich the social uses of photographic portraiture.

In the first decades of its existence, the occasions for having a portrait made were not specifically linked to significant events in one’s personal or family history. These early images were a “simple commemoration…of people or groups, rather than a convention formalizing the important moments in the course of their lives.”20 This first democratization of photography gave the middle classes access to the studios, and soon after photography acquired its commemorative purpose as a medium for memorializing the significant events within private life.

Toward the mid-1850s, with the invention of the carte de visite, the photograph album emerged as a popular new way to accumulate photographs of important family events. The photo album was often put on display in home’s parlor for curious visitors to look through. An object intended to show off the milestones and triumphs of a family’s life through a chronological visual narrative, an album might begin with a photograph of a wedding, followed by the birth of children, the couple growing older, and the arrival of grandchildren and might even include a photo indicating the death of one of the spouses, with the corresponding post-mortem photo, the widow or widower in proper mourning attire, or the tomb. Photo albums were passed on to subsequent generations, thus contributing to the transmission and promotion of customs and values. It is difficult to determine the extent to which these photographic chronologies are responding to a predetermined image that these families had of themselves, but it is clear that the photo album fostered a certain objectification of the family group and its members. Each subject pictured in the album played a role in a story situated halfway between reality and appearance, intended for an audience of friends and family. This was also the era in which the large photo studio came into being.21 These studios often had several branches in the main cities of the region and numerous employees that took over the different parts of the photographic process, previously performed by a single photographer. In these ateliers, with newer, more opulent facilities, the composition of the photographs became much more sophisticated and theatrical to please the demands of the growing clientele.

During this period the commemorative function of the portrait was associated with the birth of new genres, such as wedding photos and First Communion photos, which occurred toward the end of the 19th century and which are still common today. Also popularized in this period was the post-mortem photo, or memorial portrait, a genre that arose during the daguerreotype era and now completely disappeared. Post-mortem portraiture, photography of the deceased, was a common practice from the mid-19th century until well into the 20th century.22 The society of the time was not disturbed by this type of images. People hung them in their homes, sent copies to family and friends, and used them in relics or brooches. Photographers advertised post-mortem portraits as just another of their services and offered “transportable equipment for photographing the sick and deceased in their own homes.”23

At a time when mortality rates were devastingly high, and few people had the opportunity to have their likeness taken before their final journey, death portraits were often the only means possible of preserving the image of a loved one. By 1843, John Elliot, the first photographer to establish himself in Buenos Aires, advertised his studio in the British Packet with the phrase “Secure the shadow ’ere the substance fade,” 24 urging the public to obtain a reminder of their loved ones, even after their death. This practice would take on a special importance in the case of death portraits of children, or angelitos (little angels). According to Catholic dogma, baptized children died without mortal sin and went directly to heaven to become angels, without passing through purgatory. The rituals of children’s funerals have their origins in Spanish Catholicism. For this reason, many of these rituals are present in Hispanic America, such as dressing the child in white as a sign of spiritual purity and placing a palm in the casket to indicate the child’s virginity. The post-mortem portrait became an accepted part of the funerary ritual. In these cases, the photograph of the deceased functioned not only as a transitional object, that is, a mediating object that allowed friends and family to symbolically possess the body of the loved one who had passed on but also as a relic that reinforced their bond with God.

As in of conventional studio portraits, post-mortem images demanded a careful staging, full of symbols and socially codified elements. Therefore, the majority of these photographs are characterized by the different techniques that enabled the photographer to embellish the image and to divest it of the rawness of death. Although successful execution of the post-mortem photo depended a great deal on the skill and ability of the photographer, even the most mediocre ones attempted some kind of arrangement to improve the aesthetic of these photos. Post-mortem portraiture can fall into one of three categories, depending on the way the subject was photographed. The first category, which had its origin in a type of post-mortem painting that was very popular in the early 19th century, represented the deceased as if he or she were still alive, generally seated and with the eyes open. The best examples of this category managed to preserve the illusion of life, whereas others failed pathetically. Some photographers would try to embellish the portrait by putting makeup on the deceased or coloring the photo by hand after the image had been developed; the photographer Thomas Helsby offered, in an 1848 advertisement, “to imitate and thus perfectly preserve the features of life with ease of his paint brush.”25 The second category of post-mortem portraiture photographed the deceased as if he or she were asleep. In the 19th century, these photographs had a sentimental attraction, answering the need to maintain, at least symbolically, the presence of the deceased in the family circle; someone sleeping can be awakened, even if only in the dreams and fantasies of surviving family and friends. The third category, also common, avoided all metaphor and simply reflected real circumstances, without trying to hide or dissimulate the evidence of death.

Around the beginning of the 20th century, post-mortem portraiture began to be displaced by photographs of the funeral procession, which avoided capturing the coffin and focused instead on the social aspects of the ceremony. This was the last concession that Western culture granted to private death images.

Another genre closely associated with the emergence of paper photography and the popularization of the photographic album was the portraiture of celebrities or noteworthy figures. This type of images that transcended the private sphere, was intimately tied to the general practice of collecting photographs, and in many senses functioned as an early antecedent to the illustrated press, placing portraits of the diverse renown figures of the period within reach of the public. Professional photographers of the time established a profitable business selling series of these images.

Portraits of Otherness

For the local elite the decision to have their portraits taken was an act of expressing their identity; however, for certain subjects, being photographed, invariably through the imposition of the operator, and with no agency in the representation of their own image, photography functioned as a perfect instrument to construct otherness.

During this period the development of disciplines such as anthropology, criminology, and psychiatry was proof of a growing interest in identifying those which, either by not fitting into respectable society or by playing a negative role in it, fell outside the established order. The blind faith that 19th-century society invested in the capacity of photography to reproduce reality objectively made photography the perfect medium for identifying and classifying these “others” who did not conform with the normalized homogeneity of the time. Thus, photography came to be the inspection tower in the great panopticon of modern disciplinary society.

In Uruguay, at the end of the 1870s, a period in which executions were still mass spectacles, it was common to sell series of photographs of criminals, including those who had been condemned to die. Large studios, such as Bate y Cía and Chutte y Brooks, marketed photos of criminals taken in the moments before their executions, and in some cases with particular media impact, they even created photomontages featuring the faces of murderers next to their victims. This was also a common practice in Argentina. For example, in 1870 the photographers Augusto and Guillermo Aráoz Ormaechea distributed copies of the death portrait of the General Justo José de Urquiza, together with a photo of his murderer, Ricardo López Jordan. This work enjoyed great commercial success among the deeply shaken local society. As Magdalena Broquetas and Mauricio Brun have argued, in addition to their identifying capabilities, these photographs were meant to discourage criminal activity by taking on “an exemplary and instructive meaning directed at the rest of society.”26

During the 1880s the Frenchman Alphonse Bertillion developed a process for registering criminals, using photography that was soon adopted all over the world. Around the same time, the Uruguayan police incorporated photographic portraits of criminals into their archives as a means of identification, soon extending the practice to other areas of activity associated with the lower urban classes. For example, in 1883 a new regulation required brothel managers to present at police headquarters a list of personal information and three photographs for each prostitute employed, with the goal of separating out those infected with venereal diseases and forming a Registro General de Prostitutas (General Registry of Prostitutes).

In 1887 the Commissioner of Investigations of the Buenos Aires police force, José Sixto Álvarez, better known as Fray Mocho, published his famous Galería de ladrones de la Capital, 1880–1887, a list of two hundred criminals containing a detailed report on the personal and criminal background as well as a photograph of each prisoner. This became the commonly accepted practice for various sectors that began to prove troublesome, such as laborers and immigrants. For example, in 1899, the mayor of Buenos Aires, Adolfo Bullrich, enacted a municipal decree forcing all coachmen to have their portraits taken for personal identification cards and a professional license. Workers were outraged by this provision, contending that it put them at almost the same level as criminals, and they organized a strike and a parade of coaches of unprecedented scale that drove through the metropolitan streets in protest. Hoisting enormous signs with slogans such as “Photograph the public thieves,” “Photograph the big swindlers,” and “We are not bums,” the drivers manifested their discontent over this new form of disciplinary practice and deprived the city of coaches for rent for days.

The “panoptic” uses of photography were not limited to the criminal sphere. During the second half of the 19th century, type photography was one of the most popular photographic genres. Initially intended to satisfy European public curiosity about the physical characteristics of the inhabitants of their “exotic” colonies on the other side of the Atlantic, these images served as a catalog of the different races in need of “civilization.” While in studio portraiture, staging was used to create status symbols, in type photography, the highly codified staging was frequently exaggerated or directly fabricated to respond to a predetermined archetype. As Deborah Poole maintains, “More than documenting or supplying information about the identities of particular individuals, [these images] displayed individuals as a sequenced order of types and categories unique to a population or nation.”27 Thus, through the repetition of gestures, scenery, and costuming, this genre created a visual canon of stereotypes (the gaucho, the indigenous person, the black person, and so on) and transformed these photographs into a fashionable item to collect or exchange, proving to be a lucrative business for the professional photographers of the period.

Anthropology was another science that employed photography in the classification of its objects of study. By the end of the 19th century, the accelerated extinction of many indigenous tribes throughout Latin America made photography an appropriate medium for recording and classifying the different aboriginal populations. Yet, as a technology dominated exclusively by the white man, in practice, photography became the ideal vehicle for communicating the specific ideas, prejudices, and perspectives of its producers. Portraits of the Tehuelche chief Casimiro Biguá, taken on the occasion of his trip to Buenos Aires in 1864, can be found among the seminal images of photographic iconography of the native communities in this region.28 Taken in the studio of Esteban Gonnet, these photographs are early evidence of the kind of staging photographers used to construct stereotypes of indigenous peoples. Standing in front of a neutral backdrop, dressed in his traditional attire (skins hung in the form of a tunic, a headband, barefoot) and posed with his arms crossed (indicating a sort of passivity), these portraits sought to present an image of an indigenous person both savage and domesticated. A similar kind of staging is evident in the photographs of the Chief Pincén and his family, after their capture by the Argentine army, in 1878, taken by Antonio Pozzo in his atelier in Buenos Aires. In the most suggestive of these images, the photographer placed the chief in front of a painted backdrop of a wild landscape. Francisco P. Moreno, at that time the director of the Museum of Anthropology of Buenos Aires, completed the staging by dressing him in typical attire as well providing a boleadora and a spear. The result is the portrait of a dangerous and savage Indian, whose fearsome representation elevates the enterprise of the conquest itself. Like the Remington rifle, the railroad, and the telegraph, photography was a political and social tool that played a fundamental role in legitimizing the dominion over and expansion into the national territories controlled by indigenous populations.

Toward the last decades of the 19th century, certain positivist thinkers in Europe, such as Herbert Spencer, tried to apply Charles Darwin’s ideas about the evolution of species to the field of sociology. Just as the Darwinian model holds that there are species more adapted to survival than others, so too Spencer argued that within society, there are classes less adapted to, or capable of joining, the uninterrupted march toward progress. These ideas proved extremely fruitful for many Latin American intellectuals. The thesis that certain social classes are socially and culturally superior served to justify not only the unequal development of regions within the continent, but also the concentration of power in the hands of an elite. This process was accompanied by an abrupt shift in the representation of indigenous peoples. They ceased to be synonymous with danger and became instead objects of study for disciplines such as anthropology, which sought to elucidate the origin of the Latin American races. Turned into living spectacles at the large world’s fairs or in traveling shows, and stripped of their dignity, these individuals only function was to confirm the social inferiority that white society had assigned them. In this sense, the different portraits of Native South Americans taken in any of the multiple human zoos, a profitable business spread across Europe, are highly illustrative. These images worked to dehumanize the indigenous groups, comparing them to animals and asserting their association with barbarity, ultimately, constructing an image of the other that took the form of an inverted image of the “I.” In 1889, for example, the French entrepreneur Maurice Maître brought eleven unfortunate individuals from the Selk’nam tribe to Paris and put them on display at the World Exposition, which, paradoxically, commemorated the centenary of the French Revolution. To highlight the supposed ferocity of the Native Americans and to suggest that they were cannibals, Maître fed them raw horse and fish meat and kept them in a state of filth and complete neglect. The entrepreneur’s trip ended in Brussels, where his captives were exhibited “with heavy chains, like Bengal tigers.”29 There, the entrepreneur was photographed with the Native Americans in front of a painted backdrop of a jungle theme. He held a whip in his hand, a tool used to tame beasts, thereby presenting himself as a hunter photographed with his prey.

Photography was also a privileged instrument within the medical sphere. Just as Anthropology focused on the binary between progress and backwardness, Medicine struggled in that period to restore the sick individual to the system of normality, establishing a clear distinction between the healthy and the pathological. In contrast to what occurred in many European countries and in the United States, where a more democratic access to technology allowed many doctors and scientists to experiment with the new art of photography, the origins of medical photography in Latin America were closely connected with studio portrait photography. In the late 19th century there were not yet many doctors who could make photographic records of their patients, and so physicians were forced to turn to the only professionals with the experience and the technology to carry out this kind of work: commercial portrait photographers.30 The Portuguese photographer Christiano Junior, active in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay during the second half of the 19th century, was, without a doubt, one of the pioneers in this field in Latin America; c. 1866, he was the head of a studio at 45 Rua da Quitanda, in Río de Janeiro, and created, most likely commissioned by a doctor or hospital in the capital, an interesting album with notable cases of elephantitis. The album served as a detailed registry of patients affected by this sickness (very common in countries with hot climates), which causes an obstruction of the lymph nodes that produces dramatic deformities in the legs. The majority of the images showed black slaves, but the album also contained examples of white men and even white women. When Junior moved his studio to Buenos Aires, he brought this work with him, knowing full well that there would be little likelihood of marketing it in his new home. In 1876 he submitted the photos to the second annual meeting of the Argentine Scientific Society and won the gold medal. Although it was unlikely that he was able to turn a profit from this work, Junior knew that his undertaking, employing the new art of photography in the service of science, would be highly regarded within a society every day more imbued with the ideas of positivism.

Junior was not the only commercial photographer to take medical photographs. Revista Médico-quirúrgica was one of the first scientific publications in the region. In its first edition, in 1866, and for almost twenty years after, this bimonthly periodical tackled local issues and questions, which, up to that point, had only been discussed within the scientific community through European publications. The journal debated particular medical problems and cases in the region and was one of the first periodicals to include photographs, generally shot by studio portrait photographers, such as Emilio Halitzky, who took medical images in addition to his work as a conventional commercial photographer.31

The absence of standardized regulations for the production of medical portraits is evidence of the extreme novelty of the genre. Logically, the commercial photographers contracted for the task incorporated in these images many of the traditional techniques, conventions and aesthetics of studio portraiture. Photographic verisimilitude seemed to satisfy doctors, who apparently made no other demands. Although there are some close-ups that fragment the body of the sick individual, focusing on the most heavily affected areas, the majority of these early medical photographs record the subject’s entire body, not even hiding the face. Patients were not yet being photographed as specimens exemplifying a pathology, as would occur soon after this early phase of medical photography; they were being photographed as individuals, following the same techniques and conventions of the bourgeois portrait. The patients frequently appear in front of studio backdrops painted with architectural or pastoral motifs, thereby placing them at the border of an unreal world. In addition, the subjects repeated poses and gestures typical of studio portraiture, most certainly suggested by the photographers themselves. As with bourgeois photography, the use of symbolic elements to indicate class, such as furniture, decorative columns, balustrades, books, carpets, and curtains, was also relatively common. However, most medical photographs lacked the most obvious indication of class: clothing. Naked, or dressed in miserable garments that betrayed their humble origins, the subjects of these medical portraits were introduced, through photography, to a world that was not their own. The contrast between their deformed and mutilated bodies and the ostentation and wealth of the scenery in the portrait gallery produced a grotesque effect. The medical portrait was conceived as an empirical tool that could be trusted to document the abnormal and the pathological. However, at least during the 19th century—a period in which medical portraiture and studio portraiture were intimately linked—the discursive characteristics of the photograph interfered with this objective. Rather than providing information about the subject of the portrait and his or her context, photography inserted the patient into the familiar and manageable bourgeois world. Through elaborate staging, the photographer, to some extent, did what medicine could not: restore the sick to the “civilized” world.

If portrait photography is the mirror through which 19th-century bourgeoisie saw themselves, then these images of the other, are, without a doubt, the mirror’s aluminum, the dark surface underneath that becomes visible once the reflective surface is scratched away. The reflection of the subject reaches its limit at the aluminum, at the point where, instead of reflecting the person’s image, the mirror confronts him or her with a meaningless black spot. But, it is precisely these black spots that emerge from under the prejudices and stereotypes present in all constructions of the other, that expose the portrait as a construction and unveil the true perception of the “I,” implicit in these images.

Discussion of the Literature

Although portraiture dominated the photography industry in Rio de la Plata during the 19th century, local historians only begun in-depth study of the subject in the late 20th century. The first regional histories of photography emerged in the 1980s, at the hands of a series of chroniclers, journalists, photographers and amateur researchers.32 These studies proposed the first periodizations on the subject, bringing together images and primary sources that, until that point, had been scattered and little known. Though none of these pioneering works delved into the social uses of portraiture or its components and procedures; their main value has been to lay out a map of events, names, and techniques that has served as a foundation for all subsequent research on the subject. During this same period the history of Latin American photography became a subject of interest that transcended regional barriers and resulted in the publication of several books by North American and European scholars and collectors.33 At a time when access to primary sources was difficult to obtain, even for local historians, these authors were pioneers in the diffusion of this information outside their countries of origin, and in many cases they managed to compile valuable visual materials from foreign museums and collections. However, few of the authors continued their research, which, with time, became outdated.

In the early 1990s, especially in Argentina, there was incredible growth in the number of photography books produced. Centered on a theme, an author, a place, a period, or a particular archive, dozens of books were published, compiling historic images not previously available to the public. Among the most relevant works are Los años del daguerrotipo,34 which offers remarkable pieces from the Museo Histórico Nacional and the Complejo Museográfico Enrique Udaondo, the two most important Argentine repositories that house materials from the daguerreotype era. Focusing on the same period, the exhibition catalog Fotos antes de las fotos 35 also stands out. This booklet gathered, for the first time, almost five hundred daguerreotypes from the Río de la Plata region housed in the main private collections of Argentina. It is also worth mentioning the book Posar o ser sorprendido,36 which reproduces the collection of daguerreotypes and ambrotypes from the Museo Histórico de Buenos Aires Cornelio de Saavedra, considered to be one of the four most important photographic collections in Argentina. With respect to paper photography era, one may wish to consult two books that concentrate on the work of two significant 19th-century portrait photographers in the region whose work is conserved in the Archivo General de la Nación, Buenos Aires: Witcomb, nuestro ayer,37 which contains many remarkable images from the photographer Alejandro Witcomb, and Un país en transición,38 which has some of the most interesting portraits taken by Christiano Junior. Another indispensable reference is the book La fotografía en la historia Argentina,39 published by the newspaper Clarín on the occasion of its sixtieth anniversary and offering a complete visual panorama of the country’s history, from the daguerreotype period to the early 21st century.

At the turn of the 21st century, the emergence of photography in the academic sphere prompted the first critical articles and books on the subject. These works began by examining photography in terms of the context of its production and analyzed the role that the different social, political, cultural, and ideological discourses played in the construction of images. Among the first works to adopt this approach was Luis Príamo’s essay “Fotografía y vida privada,” included in the second volume of Historia de la vida privada en la Argentina.40 This exploration of portraiture in Argentina from 1870 to 1930 addresses its dual public and private dimensions and analyzes both the function that photographs fulfill in the intimate sphere of portraiture and the role that they play in the eyes of others, the “social eye,” interjected through the expectations of subjects and photographers themselves. Written from the same perspective, the article “El retrato fotográfico en Latinoamérica: Testimonio de una identidad” 41 is also noteworthy. In this text, Mariana Giordano and Patricia Méndez consider the role of the portrait photographer as a builder of identities and of otherness in Latin America during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Another valuable contribution is José Antonio Navarrete’s article “Las buenas maneras: Fotografía y sujeto burgués en América Latina, Siglo XIX.”42 that discusses the role of photographic staging in the presentation of the modernizing project of Latin American elites and its relationship to the models established by the European tradition. With respect to Uruguay one of the most relevant studies is the book Fotografía en Uruguay: Historia y usos sociales, 1840-1930,43 edited by Magdalena Broquetas, which explores photography’s potential as a historical source, providing a critical analysis that focuses not only on its contents, techniques, and contexts of production but also on the uses and meanings of these images during the different historic junctures of the country.

Concerning photographic portraiture as a constructor of otherness, two books by Mariana Giordano stand out: Indígenas en la Argentina: Fotografías, 1860-197044 and Discurso e imagen sobre el indígena chaqueño.45 These works deal with photographic representation of the indigenous communities in the south of the continent and aim at deconstructing the discourses, perspectives, and prejudices present in these images, in addition to contributing an abundance of graphic material on the subject. Several of Marta Penhos’s articles are in this same vein. “Frente y perfil: Una indagación acerca de la fotografía en las prácticas antropológicas y criminológicas en Argentina a fines del siglo XIX y principios del XX,”46 focuses on the front and profile headshot and its uses in the diverse scientific disciplines that sought to register and classify individuals considered to be outside the system, especially indigenous peoples and criminals. “Retratos de indios y actos de representación,” 47 on its part, concentrates on the decisive role that photography played in the knowledge, understanding, and possession—material and symbolic—of the land and its inhabitants and the stereotypes it helped to construct. Several of these ideas are taken up once again by Jens Andermann in the book The Optic of the State: Visuality and Power in Argentina and Brazil,48 in which the author deals with the role of images as a means of knowledge and record of nature, geography, and people in Argentina and Brazil during the second half of the 19th century. According to Adermann, these new forms of knowledge correspond to an “optics of the state” which, was functional to the discourse of the hegemonic powers during this period.

Finally, with respect to the relationship between photography and otherness, Mercedes García Ferrari’s Ladrones conocidos/Sospechosos reservados,49 is also relevant, analyzing, among other themes, the use of police portrait photography as the first instrument of institutional identification of criminals in Buenos Aires at the end of the 19th century.

Primary Sources

There are numerous public and private museums and archives in the Río de la Plata region that house portrait photographs from the 19th century. For the daguerreotype period, the most relevant are the Museo Histórico Nacional (Casa de Juan Francisco Giró), in Montevideo, Uruguay, and the Complejo Museográfico Provincial Enrique Udaondo, in Lujan, as well as the Histórico Nacional and the Histórico Brigadier General Cornelio de Saavedra museums in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Although the collections in these repositories are not available online, their most important pieces have been reproduced in several of the books and catalogs mentioned in the “Discussion of Literature” section.50 With respect to paper photography era, the Archivo General de la Nación, in Buenos, Aires, is an indispensable resource, housing the collections of some of the most important studio photographers of the 19th century, such as Alejandro Witcomb and Christiano Junior. It also contains significant albums of popular and indigenous types.51 The Fototeca Benito Panunzi, a branch of the Biblioteca Nacional, Buenos Aires, is noteworthy, preserving interesting materials related to portraiture, including photographic collections of families and studios of the era, albums of distinguished photographers, and photographic police registries. Many of these images as well as digitized material from the entire Biblioteca Nacional can be accessed through the Biblioteca Digital Trapalanda. Also of great interest are the photographic archives of the Museo de la Ciudad and the Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernández Blanco, which are partially accessible through Acceder, a network of digital content of cultural heritage that brings together various databases from institutions in Buenos Aires. In Uruguay one of the most important repositories for this time period is the Biblioteca Nacional, Montevideo, which houses hundreds of portraits produced by the main photographic establishments of the country. Concerning diverse images of otherness, the archive at the Museo de la Plata, in Argentina stands out, gathering albums and photographic collections of popular and indigenous types produced by distinguished photographers, ethnographers, and anthropologists of the era, such as Guido Boggiani, Samuel Boote, Christiano Junior, Francisco Moreno, Hermann ten Kate, and Carlos Bruch. The collection at the Museo de La Plata can be partially accessed at the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme, which has financed the digitization of hundreds of at-risk collections worldwide. Finally, there are multiple semipublic and private collections, both in Argentina and in Uruguay, that have conserved a considerable amount of material from this era. Among them, the photographic collection at the Centro de Documentación de Arquitectura Latinoamericana (CEDODAL) is notable. The CEDODAL is a privately funded nonprofit foundation that houses an important collection of images of popular and indigenous subjects.52 Although the majority of these private repositories are not accessible to the public, or only permit limited access, there are catalogs and books that reproduce the most significant pieces from these collections—such as the exhibition catalog Fotos antes de la fotos (see the section “Discussion of Literature”). Moreover, some of the collections, such as the Colección M y M Cuarterolo and the Museo Fotográfico/Archivo Histórico Adolfo Alexander, have websites that include photographic materials that researchers can access.

Further Reading

Alexander, Abel, Alberto Gabriel Piñeiro, and Daniel Tubío. Posar o ser sorprendido: Imágenes y lecturas II. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Ministerio de Cultura del Gobierno de la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, 2014.Find this resource:

Andermann, Jens. The Optic of the State: Visuality and Power in Argentina and Brazil. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007.Find this resource:

Báez Allende, Christian, and Peter Mason. Zoológicos humanos: Fotografías de fueguinos y “mapuche” en el Jardin d’Acclimatation de París, siglo XIX. Santiago, Chile: Pehuén Editores, 2006.Find this resource:

Billeter, Erika. Fotografie Lateinamerika, von 1860 bis Heute. Zurich, Switzerland: Kunsthaus, 1981.Find this resource:

Broquetas, Magdalena, ed. Fotografía en Uruguay: Historia y usos sociales, 1840–1930. Montevideo, Uruguay: Centro de Fotografía Ediciones, 2011.Find this resource:

Casaballe, Amado, and Miguel Ángel Cuarterolo. Imágenes del Río de la Plata: Crónica de la fotografía rioplatense, 1840–1940. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial del Fotógrafo, 1983.Find this resource:

Cortés-Rocca, Paola. El tiempo de la máquina: Retratos, paisajes y otras imágenes de la Nación. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Colihue, 2011.Find this resource:

Cuarterolo, Andrea. “El retrato fotográfico en la Buenos Aires decimonónica: La burguesía se representa a sí misma.” Revista varia história 35 (2005): 39–53.Find this resource:

Cuarterolo, Andrea. “La muerte ilustre: Fotografía mortuoria de personajes públicos en el Río de la Plata.” In Imagen de la muerte. Edited by David Rodríguez and Limbergh Herrera, 83–105. Lima, Peru: Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, 2007.Find this resource:

Cuarterolo, Andrea. “Fotografía y teratología en América Latina: Una aproximación a la imagen del monstruo en la retratística de estudio del siglo XIX.” A Contracorriente: A Journal on Social History and Literature in Latin America 7.1 (2009): 119–145.Find this resource:

Cuarterolo, Andrea L. “Fotografiar la muerte: La imagen en el ritual póstumo.” Revista todo es historia 424 (2002): 24–34.Find this resource:

Cuarterolo, Miguel Ángel. “Las primeras fotografías del país.” In Los años del daguerrotipo, 1843–1870: Primeras fotografías argentinas. Translated by C. E. Feiling, 15–22. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Fundación Antorchas, 1995.Find this resource:

Cuarterolo, Miguel Ángel, and Alberto Petrina, eds. Fotos antes de las fotos: Daguerrotipos en el sur de América. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernández Blanco, 1996.Find this resource:

Facio, Sara. Witcomb, nuestro ayer. Translated by Sara Gullco. Buenos Aires, Argentina: La Azotea, 1991.Find this resource:

García Ferrari, Mercedes. Ladrones conocidos/Sospechosos reservados: Identificación policial en Buenos Aires, 1880–1905. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Prometeo, 2010.Find this resource:

Gesualdo, Vicente. Historia de la fotografía en América desde Alaska a Tierra del Fuego en el siglo XIX. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial Sui Generis, 1990.Find this resource:

Giordano, Mariana. Discurso e imagen sobre el indígena chaqueño. La Plata, Argentina: Ediciones al Margen, 2008.Find this resource:

Giordano, Mariana. Indígenas en la Argentina: Fotografías, 1860–1970. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Artenauta, 2012.Find this resource:

Giordano, Mariana, and Patricia Méndez. “El retrato fotográfico en Latinoamérica: Testimonio de una identidad.” Tiempos de América: Revista de historia, cultura y territorio 8 (2001): 121–136.Find this resource:

Gómez, Juan. La fotografía en la Argentina: Su historia y evolución en el siglo XIX. 1840–1899. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Juan Gómez, 1986.Find this resource:

González, Valeria. Fotografía en la Argentina, 1840–2010. Translated by Cristina Saccone and Patricia Dobal. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Ediciones Arte x Arte, 2011.Find this resource:

Hoffenberg, H. L. Nineteenth-Century South America in Photographs. New York: Dover, 1982.Find this resource:

Levine, Robert. Images of History: Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Latin American Photographs as Documents. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1989.Find this resource:

Levine, Robert M., ed. Windows on Latin America: Understanding Society through Photographs. Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami, 1987.Find this resource:

Muñoz Pace, Fernando, Héctor García Blanco, and Eduardo Longoni, eds. La fotografía en la historia Argentina. 4 vols. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Clarín, 2005.Find this resource:

Navarrete, José Antonio. “Las buenas maneras: Fotografía y sujeto burgués en América Latina, Siglo XIX.” Aisthesis: Revista Chilena de Investigaciones Estéticas 35 (2002): 10–15.Find this resource:

Penhos, Marta. “Retratos de indios y actos de representación.” In Memoria del 4º Congreso de Historia de la Fotografía. Edited by Alexander, Abel, Miguel Ángel Cuarterolo, Juan Gómez, Sergio Lugo, Rogelio N. Rozas, Gabriela Mirande Lamédica, Juan Antonio Varese and Antonio Padrón Toro, 89–98. Buenos Aires, Argentina: CEP, 1995.Find this resource:

Penhos, Marta. “Frente y perfil: Una indagación acerca de la fotografía en las prácticas antropológicas y criminológicas en Argentina a fines del siglo XIX y principios del XX.” In Arte y antropología en la Argentina, 15–64. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Fundación Espigas, 2005.Find this resource:

Príamo, Luis. “Fotografía y vida privada, 1870–1930.” In Historia de la vida privada en la Argentina. Vol 2. Edited by Fernando Devoto and Marta Madero, 274–299. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Taurus, 1999.Find this resource:

Varese, Juan Antonio. Historia de la fotografía en el Uruguay. Montevideo, Uruguay: Ediciones de la Banda Oriental, 2007.Find this resource:

Varese, Juan Antonio. Los comienzos de la fotografía en Uruguay: El daguerrotipo y su tiempo. Montevideo, Uruguay: Ediciones de la Banda Oriental, 2013.Find this resource:

Wright, Ann, trans. Un país en transición: Fotografías de Buenos Aires, Cuyo y el Noroeste, 1867–1833/Christiano Junior. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Fundación Antorchas, 2002.Find this resource:


(1.) The daguerreotype was the first photographic process in existence. It created a unique direct positive (without a negative) and was registered on a copper plate covered with a thin layer of well-polished silver that was made sensitive to light by fumes of iodine.

(2.) The region of Río de la Plata links historically and culturally the Agentine and the Uruguayan banks of the river. The first photographers to arrive in the Río de la Plata region during the 19th century traveled through this territory’s main cities, taking photographs that were formally, ideologically, and thematically very similar and that clearly demonstrate the cultural ties that bound the region together.

(3.) The daguerreotype arrived on the shores of Río de la Plata in 1840, on the French-Belgian frigate L’Oriental, an educational ship that carried around the world a large contingent of students on a two-year scholastic program. Among the professors on this floating school were Abbé Louis Compte, a monk who was trained in the art of the daguerreotype by Louis Daguerre himself and who was responsible for introducing photography to Brazil and Uruguay. Despite the blockade imposed on the port of Buenos Aires by King Louis-Philippe, of France, in 1838, preventing L’Oriental from reaching Argentina, in Montevideo various citizens of Buenos Aires who had been exiled by the Rosas government, such as Florencio Varela and Mariquita Sánchez de Thompson, attended Compte’s demonstrations and wrote some of the first articles about this new invention.

(4.) Among the few cases of opposition to the daguerreotype, we can mention that of the painter Carlos Enrique Pellegrini, who, while visiting his colleague Amadeo Gras in his photography studio, pointed to a daguerreotype camera and remarked, “Behold our enemy.” Gras, like many portrait artists of the time, had been forced to become a professional photographer to survive. See Adolfo Luis Ribera, El retrato en Buenos Aires, 1580–1870 (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Universidad de Buenos Aires, 1982), 241.

(5.) Mariquita Sánchez de Thompson (1786–1868) was an Argentine patriot and one of the most politically engaged women of her time. She played an active role in the revolution and proved an incisive journalist in her writings on the political processes that followed. Some of the most important figures of the time passed through her house, and it is said that the Argentine national anthem was sung for the first time in her parlor. She was the president of the Sociedad de Beneficencia de Buenos Aires and founded one of the first schools for girls. During the government of Juan Manuel de Rosas, she was exiled to Montevideo for siding with the Unitarios (Unitarian Party), along with her son, Juan, and her husband, Juan de Mendeville.

(6.) Letter from Mariquita Sánchez de Thompson to her son, Juan Thompson, February 27, 1840.

(7.) “Descripción del daguerrotipo por el Dr. D. Teodoro Vilardebó,” El Nacional, March 6, 1840.

(8.) “Daguerreotipo [sic],” La Gaceta Mercantil, August 16, 1843.

(9.) “Retratos fotográficos,” El Comercio del Plata, December 19, 1851.

(10.) William M. Ivins, Prints and Visual Communication (Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 1969), 94.

(11.) According to an advertisement for the daguerreotypist John Ellicot, published in La Gaceta Mercantil, May 11, 1844.

(12.) Roland Barthes, La cámara lúcida (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Paidós, 1997), 45.

(13.) Gisèle Freund, La fotografía como documento social (Mexico City: Ed. Gustavo Gili, 1993), 13.

(14.) Carl Lemos, “Ambientação ilusória,” in Retratos quase inocentes, ed. Marcondes de Moura and Carlos Eugenio (São Paulo, Brazil: Nobel, 1983), 58.

(15.) The divisa punzó was a political emblem mandated by Rosas during his second term. All civil and military professionals were obligated to wear the red band over their clothing as a symbol of loyalty to the federal government.

(16.) Only by the mid-1850s, with the advent of paper photography and access for more social classes to the confined bourgeois atmosphere of the studio, does the spectrum of occupations represented begin to expand. Once this happens, we see surveyors, pharmacists, musicians, and photographers, with their respective attire and tools, paraded in front of the lens.

(17.) Fulya Ertem, “The Pose in Early Portrait Photography: Questioning Attempts to Appropriate the Past,” Image and Narrative, no. 14 (2006).

(18.) The carte de visite was produced using the collodion or wet plate process, with a special four-lens camera that made from four to twelve exposures, each six by ten centimeters, which were mounted on card. The carte de visite was invented in 1854, by the Frenchman André-Adolphe Eugène Disdéri, and owes its name to its size, which was close to that of a calling card.

(19.) In August of 1855, Artigue published a series of advertisements in the newspaper El Nacional, in which he offered “for the insignificant price of 100 pesos, five carte de visite portraits that can be sealed in a letter,” El Nacional, August 12, 1855.

(20.) Luis Príamo, “Fotografía y vida privada, 1870–1930,” in Historia de la vida privada en la Argentina, vol. 2, ed. Fernando Devoto and Marta Madero (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Taurus, 1999), 278.

(21.) Among the most important studios of the period were those of Christiano Junior and Alejandro Witcomb, in Buenos Aires, and Bate y Cía. and Chutte y Brooks, in Montevideo, which also had branches in Buenos Aires.

(22.) Several examples of these photographs can be seen in the essays “Fotografiar la muerte: La imagen en el ritual póstumo,” Revista todo es historia 424 (2002): 24–34, and “La muerte ilustre: Fotografía mortuoria de personajes públicos en el Río de la Plata,” in Imagen de la muerte, ed. David Rodríguez and Limbergh Herrera (Lima, Peru: Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, 2007), 83–105.

(23.) Advertisement for the German photographer Adolfo Alexander, whose studio was located at 37, calle de las Artes, in Buenos Aires, original broadside c. 1860, Abel Alexander’s collection.

(24.) The British Packet, Buenos Aires, November 4, 1843.

(25.) Julio Riobó, La daguerrotipia y los daguerrotipos en Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Julio Riobó, 1949), 36.

(26.) Magdalena Broquetas and Mauricio Bruno, “La fotografía al servicio de la vigilancia y el control social,” in “Fotografía en Uruguay: Historia y usos sociales, 1840–1930, ed. Magdalena Broquetas.(Montevideo, Uruguay: Centro de Fotografía Ediciones, 2011), 177.

(27.) Deborah Poole, “An Image of ‘Our Indian’: Type and Racial Sentiments in Oaxaca, 1920–1940,” Hispanic American Historical Review) 84.1 (2004): 45.

(28.) Biguá traveled to Buenos Aires in 1864, invited by the naval officer Luis Piedrabuena, with whom he had a business relationship, to meet with President Julio A. Roca, who gave him a warm reception and named him chief of San Gregorio.

(29.) Martín Gusinde, Los indios de Tierra del Fuego: Resultado de mis cuatro expediciones en los años 1918 hasta 1924 organizadas bajo los auspicios del Ministerio de Instrucción Pública de Chile, vol. 1 (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Centro Argentino de Etnología Americana, 1982), 152.

(30.) Several examples of this kind of photograph can be seen in the article “Fotografía y teratología en América Latina: Una aproximación a la imagen del monstruo en la retratística de estudio del siglo XIX,” A Contracorriente: A Journal on Social History and Literature in Latin America 7:1 (2009).

(31.) Until the 1890’s, when the halftone process was introduced in Argentina, books and publications could not include images other than drawings or mounted albumen prints, a resource which was extremely expensive. Nevertheless, certain high-quality books and publications often contained a few original pictures of this sort.

(32.) Regarding Argentina, the most relevant works are Amado Casaballe and Miguel Ángel Cuarterolo, Imágenes del Río de la Plata: Crónica de la fotografía rioplatense, 1840–1940 (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial del Fotógrafo, 1983); Juan Gómez, La fotografía en la Argentina: Su historia y evolución en el siglo XIX, 1840–1899 (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Juan Gómez, 1986); and Vicente Gesualdo, Historia de la fotografía en América desde Alaska a Tierra del Fuego en el siglo XIX (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial Sui Generis, 1990). In Uruguay the first history of photography was Juan Antonio Varese, Historia de la fotografía en el Uruguay (Montevideo, Uruguay: Ediciones de la Banda Oriental, 2007). Although published much later, the latter publication has many of the same characteristics as its Argentine counterparts.

(33.) Among the works most relevant to the theme, the following stand out: Erika Billeter, Fotografie Lateinamerika, von 1860 bis Heute (Zurich, Switzerland: Kunsthaus, 1981) (Spanish edition: Fotografía latinoamericana, desde 1860 hasta nuestros días [Madrid: Viso, 1981]); H. L. Hoffenberg, Nineteenth-Century South America in Photographs (New York: Dover, 1982); Robert M. Levine, ed., Windows on Latin America: Understanding Society through Photographs (Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami, 1987); Robert Levine, Images of History: Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Latin American Photographs as Documents (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1989); and Erika Billeter, Canto a la realidad: Fotografía latinoamericana, 1860–1993 (Barcelona: Lunwerg Editores, 1993).

(34.) Jeremy Adelman and Miguel Angel Cuarterlo, Los años del daguerrotipo, 1843–1870: Primeras fotografías argentinas, trans. C. E. Feiling (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Fundación Antorchas, 1995).

(35.) Miguel Ángel Cuarterolo and Alberto Petrina, eds., Fotos antes de las fotos: Daguerrotipos en el sur de América (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernández Blanco, 1996).

(36.) Abel Alexander, Alberto Gabriel Piñeiro, and Daniel Tubío, Posar o ser sorprendido: Imágenes y lecturas II (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Ministerio de Cultura del Gobierno de la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, 2014).

(37.) Sara Facio, Witcomb, nuestro ayer, trans. Sara Gullco (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Azotea, 1991).

(38.) Abel Alexander, Luis Priamo, and Beatriz Bragoni, Un país en transición: Fotografías de Buenos Aires, Cuyo y el Noroeste, 1867–1833/Christiano Junior, trans. Ann Wright (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Fundación Antorchas, 2002).

(39.) Fernando Muñoz Pace, Héctor García Blanco, and Eduardo Longoni, eds., La fotografía en la historia Argentina (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Clarín, 2005).

(40.) Luis Príamo, “Fotografía y vida privada, 1870–1930,” in Historia de la vida privada en la Argentina, vol. 2, ed. Fernando Devoto and Marta Madero (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Taurus, 1999), 274–299.

(41.) Mariana Giordano and Patricia Méndez, “El retrato fotográfico en Latinoamérica: Testimonio de una identidad,” Tiempos de América: Revista de historia, cultura y territorio 8 (2001): 121–136.

(42.) José Antonio Navarrete, “Las buenas maneras: Fotografía y sujeto burgués en América Latina, Siglo XIX,” Aisthesis: Revista chilena de investigaciones estéticas 35 (2002): 10–15.

(43.) Magdalena Broquetas, ed., Fotografía en Uruguay: Historia y usos sociales, 1840–1930, (Montevideo, Uruguay: Centro de Fotografía Ediciones, 2011).

(44.) Mariana Giordano, Indígenas en la Argentina: Fotografías, 1860–1970 (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Artenauta, 2012).

(45.) Mariana Giordano, Discurso e imagen sobre el indígena chaqueño (La Plata, Argentina: Ediciones al Margen, 2008).

(46.) Marta Penhos, “Frente y perfil: Una indagación acerca de la fotografía en las prácticas antropológicas y criminológicas en Argentina a fines del siglo XIX y principios del XX,” in Arte y antropología en la Argentina, (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Fundación Espigas, 2005), 15–64.

(47.) Marta Penhos, “Retratos de indios y actos de representación,” in Memoria del 4º Congreso de Historia de la Fotografía, Alexander, Abel, Miguel Ángel Cuarterolo, Juan Gómez, Sergio Lugo, Rogelio N. Rozas, Gabriela Mirande Lamédica, Juan Antonio Varese and Antonio Padrón Toro, eds. (Buenos Aires, Argentina: CEP, 1995), 89–98.

(48.) Jens Andermann, The Optic of the State: Visuality and Power in Argentina and Brazil, (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007).

(49.) Mercedes García Ferrari, Ladrones conocidos/Sospechosos reservados: Identificación policial en Buenos Aires, 1880–1905 (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Prometeo, 2010).

(50.) In this sense, the most outstanding are Los años del daguerrotipo, 1843–1870: Primeras fotografías argentinas;Posar o ser sorprendido: Imágenes y lecturas II; and Fotografía en Uruguay: Historia y usos sociales, 1840–1930, each of which brings together and reproduces a large quantity of photographic material from these archives.

(51.) Some of these albums and collections have also been partially reproduced in photographic books, such as Witcomb, nuestro ayer; Un país en transición: Fotografías de Buenos Aires, Cuyo y el Noroeste, 1867–1833/Christiano Junior; and Indígenas en la Argentina: Fotografías, 1860–1970 (see “Discussion of Literature”).

(52.) This collection is partially catalogued in the book Fotografía Latinoamericana: Colección CEDODAL (Buenos Aires, Argentina: CEDODAL, 2001).