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Juliette Tournassoud, the Photographer's Daughter
Tournassoud's early Autochromes were portraits and genres scenes of his family. He staged these images carefully, planning every detail of setting, costume and color. This is one of many portraits of his elder daughter, Juliette, one of a handful that survive from a single sitting. Her age suggests that it was made just before the war. Autochromes required a long exposure, so Juliette Tournassoud would have had to hold her pose and expression for several seconds. Having grown up with a photographer father, she was an experienced model, and appears comfortable, attentive and casual. She is dressed in a brand-new outfit in autumn colors, so this portrait may have been made to celebrate a special occasion, perhaps a birthday or the first day of school. Juliette's brown wool jacket is lined in a contrasting checked fabric that matches her dress, its elegance equaled by her buttoned boots and kid gloves, and her tightly rolled umbrella.
She stands in a studio upon a Middle Eastern carpet with alternating bands of color that provide a strong visual baseline. Behind her, a blue velvet curtain is pinned up on the right, creating a curve in reverse of the arched frame. The angle of her umbrella flows toward the upper right and into the curve of her hat. These lines and curves act as a vortex, leading the viewer's eye to Juliette's face. Tournassoud posed his daughter so that the wide brim of her hat frames the perpendicular ellipse of her face, accentuated by the red ribbon encircling the brim of her hat and hanging down near her left shoulder, and the matching red edging on her coat buttons and the red bow in her hair. A red ribbon encircles the crown of the hat and hangs over the brim. Even her black coat buttons are edged in red--the same hues in different proportions. The Autochrome is mounted in a frame of cut black paper (passe-partout) that sits between the emulsion surface and a protective sheet of glass. The exacting refinement of this mount marks it as the work of the R. Dechavannes Studio, a Paris framing workshop that the Lumières and Tournassoud often used.
from Acton, A History of Photography at the University of Notre Dame: Twentieth Century (Notre Dame, 2019)