Camille Silvy

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Camille Silvy with his wife and mother, London, 1865. Photograph by Silvy

Camille-Léon-Louis Silvy (born Nogent-le-Rotrou, France, 1834; died Saint-Maurice, France, 1910) was a French photographer, primarily active in London.

William De Salis by Camille Silvy, 1861 [1]

He learned photography from his friend, Count Olympe Aguado, in 1857,[1] and became a member of the Société française de photographie in 1858. He then moved to London and opened a portrait studio at 38 Porchester Terrace, Bayswater, becoming a member of the Photographic Society in 1859.

Detail of a reverse of a carte de viste showing Silvy's logo, 30 April, 1861. (This is the back of the one of William Fane De Salis.)

Sitters in Silvy's portraits include Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, Queen Emma of Hawaii, Lady Amberley, Harriet Martineau, Adelina Patti and Frederick Robson. He also photographed many members of the British royal family. The National Portrait Gallery, London, holds his studio's daybooks, which include details of some 17,000 sittings, with about 12,000 of these showing an image from the sitting.

He closed his studio and returned to France in 1868. He himself believed that his nervous system had been damaged by exposure to potassium cyanide in the darkroom but it more likely that he suffered from manic depression. The last thirty years of his life were spent in a succession of hospitals, sanatoria and convalescent homes.

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River Scene, France
Miss Emily Waller, albumen print, 27 June 1862, aka Mrs Edward William Boudier.