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Louis Kaplan

(Howard)

(b Boston, MA, May 1832; d Boston, MA, May 16, 1884).

American engraver, spirit photographer, and inventor. Mumler worked first as an engraver in the jewellery firm of Bigelow, Kennard, and Co. before taking up photography. In 1862, he claimed to have developed a haunted photographic self-portrait that contained the ‘spirit’ of a deceased female cousin, even though a more naturalistic explanation viewed it as a double exposure produced on an already used plate. Working with his wife Hannah, who was a clairvoyant and medium, Mumler went into business producing such spirit photographs as cartes-de-visite for the bereaved and the curious on a full-time basis.

The success of Mumler’s spirit photography must be understood in relation to the growth of Spiritualism as a popular religious movement and the belief that communication with the dead was possible. For Spiritualist leaders such as Andrew Jackson Davis (1826–1910), Mumler’s images offered visible proof of a new medium for spirit communication and communion. However, Mumler left Boston amid scandal when a few of the spirits in his photographs were found to still be alive. Relocating to New York in the late 1860s, he opened a studio at 630 Broadway....

Article

Eugenia Parry Janis

(b Boissy-Saint-Léger, Dec 12, 1795; d Paris, May 4, 1866).

French lithographer, photographer and painter. From his début at the Salon of 1814 as a painter he regularly exhibited lithographed images of daily life, fashion, regional costumes and erotica, many done after the work of English and Dutch artists. He also published his own lithographed compositions, mostly ‘female types’. With Achille Deveria and others he contributed to the compendium of romantic erotica called Imagerie galante (Paris, 1830), which provocatively updated an erotic mode found in 18th-century engravings. The subjects were pictorial versions of stock characters from popular novels and plays.

Vallou turned to photography in 1842 after nearly 30 years of popular lithography. By 1851 he was using the paper negative exclusively. He belonged to the Société Héliographique and was a founder-member of the Société Française de Photographie. It is not known how and why he changed to the new medium, except that he may have seen its market potential in providing artists with photographic studies (...