The carte-de-visite (or visiting card) format was patented in France in 1854 and soon became the most common type of 19th-century photograph. Between four and six miniature portraits could be taken on one glass plate. Sitters then chose their favourite and ordered multiple prints.
It was fashionable to exchange and collect images of family, friends, royalty and celebrities. Camille Silvy produced some of the most stylish cartes. He had a studio in London and offered a variety of elegant backgrounds.