This image depicting George Washington and Abraham Lincoln is titled “Apotheosis.”
1. the elevation or exaltation of a person to the rank of a god.
2. the ideal example; epitome; quintessence.
Based on the title, the image could be interpreted as a god like George Washington welcoming Abraham Lincoln to heaven. Copyrighted in 1865, the image was widely reproduced after Lincoln’s death. This copy from the Ohio Historical Society’s collection of Lincoln memorabilia was mounted on a carte de visite.
Cartes des visite originated in France. They are photographs mounted on cards usually measuring about 2 ¼ x 4 ¼ inches, the same size as calling cards that were commonly used in the 19th century. The name is the French phrase for calling card. Cartes des visite were introduced in the United States in 1859.
With the advent of the Civil War, they became a popular format for soldiers and family portraits because they were light weight and portable. Cartes des visite also became a popular format for photographers to sell photographs of well known people, such as military officers, politicians and entertainers. Albums were produced with pockets sized to slide in cartes des visite. It is not uncommon to find images like this one of Washington and Lincoln tucked in family albums.
Curator for Visual Resources