Vest of Emperor Maximilian

André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri (French, Paris 1819–1889 Paris)
François Aubert (French, 1829–1906)
Albumen silver print from glass negative
19.4 x 23.8 cm. (7 5/8 x 9 3/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Myriam and Harry Lunn, 1995
Accession Number:
Not on view
In the 1860s collecting and exchanging cartes-de-visite-little photographs about the size of a visiting card that were often mounted in ornate albums-grew tremendously popular in Europe and the United States. This uncut sheet of cartes depicts the bullet-riddled vest of the Austrian Archduke Maximilian I, who was appointed emperor of Mexico by Napoleon III in 1864. Maximilian's puppet regime lasted only three years; when the French army withdrew from Mexico in 1867, he was captured, tried, and executed by the nationalist supporters of Benito Juarez.
François Aubert, a French photographer who was in Mexico at the time, photographed Maximilian's corpse and clothing, producing a sensational and somewhat gruesome record of the execution and the politically charged relics of the slain emperor. This image of Maximillian's disembodied vest floating in an indeterminate space was re-photographed in carte-de-visite format by the highly successful Parisian photographer Disdéri.
The artist's studio; General Rebora; Maurice Levert; M. and Mme du Passage; Peschetau-Badin, Godeau et Leroy sale (Drouot, Paris) Jan. 28, 1995, lot 148; Harry Lunn.

McCauley, Elizabeth Anne. A. A. E. Disdéri and the Carte de Visite Portrait Photograph. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.

Aubenas, Sylvie. "Le petit monde de Disdéri." Etudes photographiques 3 (1997). pp. 26–41.