Monseigneur Constant Louis Guillois Pierre Petit  (French, 1832-1909)

Born 1832 in Aups, France, died 1909 in Paris, France, "Pierre Petit is a photographer, nothing but a photographer," wrote Petit’s biographer in 1876, identifying his subject as an accomplished specialist in his field whose work was not diluted by the practice of other media. Having started with daguerreotypes in 1849, Petit experimented with paper negatives on a trip to Rome in 1854. After a brief partnership with Trinquart, Petit became the sole proprietor of a studio at 31 Place Cadet. In 1861 Petit began to advertise his Galerie des illustrations contemporaines, a pantheon of famous faces, mostly writers, whom he had photographed. Critic Ernest Lacan called the Galerie "a monument raised to the history of photography…. In general, all these men–those who have arrived, who are arriving and will arrive–carry in them a personal character, an original stamp that M. Petit has grasped and rendered always with rare success…" Petit was the first portrait photographer to use electric light successfully in his work. He received government commissions in 1866 and later photographed events at the time of the Paris Commune. (Getty Museum)