Nymphe aux Rinceaux Laffon, Louise  (French, active 1859–1870)

An early practical application of the Poitevin photolithographic process from a series of photographs taken by Louise Laffon of objects from the Campana Collection in the Musée Napoléon III in Paris (now the Louvre).

Laffon, born Louise Lusignan Lazard, was a female painter and photographer active in Paris from 1859 at 93 Boulevard Beaumarchais. She moved to 13 rue Lord Byron in 1861, and called her studio "Photography Lord Byron." She was the third woman admitted to S.F.P. in 1864. She then operated at 148 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and Rue 3 of Beaucourt from 1867 to 1870. She participated in exhibitions in Paris in 1859, 1861, 1863, 1864 and 1867, in Marseille in 1861 and in London in 1862. She ceased activities in 1876.

Overlooked until now, female photographers were employed by and played an important role in the Museum’s mission to use photography for these administrative and educational purposes. While the Museum had its own photographic service and photographers, including Isabel Agnes Cowper, it also sourced photographs from independent professionals, including those working abroad. Louise Laffon, the third female member of Le Société Française de la Photographie, produced a series of photographs of objects from the Campana Collection in the Musée Napoléon III in Paris (now the Louvre). In 1864, the V&A purchased 500 works from this series from Laffon through the agent Monsieur E. Cappe. A few examples of Laffon’s original gilded mounts survive. These are of particular interest in that they highlight the way in which Laffon masked her gender, each mount bearing the gender-neutral stamp of ‘L. Laffon’ along with the name of her studio, ‘Photographie Lord Byron’ (a reference to the street on which her studio was located).