The National Science and Technology Museum of Catalonia (MNACTEC) has digitised the set of photographic studio portraits dating from 1854 to 1926 in the Duran Torrens collection of the history of photography built up over the course of his life by photographer and collector Carlos Duran, which is held at the MNACTEC. All the digitised images are now accessible via the MNACTEC online archive.
More than 450 photographs have been digitised, ranging from the first visiting card to later cabinet photography formats, showing the evolution of this portraiture technique, including cabinet cards, Victoria, Boudoir and Imperial cards, among other formats.
The digitised collection represents a plentiful source of information to discover some of the numerous photographic studios which existed in Catalonia in the late 19th and early 20th century, although there are also works from elsewhere in Spain and abroad. All the cards, scanned in high resolution, show both the photographic image on the front, and the reverse where the studios printed contact information, and often also advertising details. All the cards are extensively documented, allowing the collection to be accessed by name and date, using the online archive search engine.
Visiting cards, devised in 1854 by André Disdéri in France, marked a turning point in the process of industrialisation and definitive popularisation of photography. This photographic technique, which reduced the cost and increased the reproducibility of studio portraits on paper, made it fashionable to keep and collect portraits of relatives, friends, and even celebrities, in often de luxe photo albums.17 February 2023