Ambrotypes were one of the earliest photographic processes. Called by the British a ‘wet collodion positive on glass’, the ambrotype was developed by
Technically, it is fascinating process. Firstly, an underexposed collodion negative on glass is bleached of its whitish tone by the application of nitric acid or mercury bichloride. It is then backed with either black lacquer or black paper to present a positive image. Ambrotypes were often mounted in a cased frame with a hinged cover. Each ambrotype, just as with daguerreotypes is a one-off. A unique image from one exposure. As they were easier to tint, ambrotypes are often retouched with gold paint to highlight jewellery and add reddish tones for women’s lips and cheeks. By the late 1860s, ambrotypes were replaced with carte de visites and tintypes.
The inclusion of a framed painting within an ambrotype is uncommon, especially since it skews the seated position of the young man.