Born in Munich, Germany on March 5, 1825, Joseph Albert became an accomplished student of chemistry and physics. His scientific prowess made photography a logical career choice. He apprenticed with master photographer Alois Locherer in Munich, and by the age of 25, he owned and operated a highly successful photo studio and laboratory in Augsburg. Ever the inventor, Mr. Albert utilized glass plates to develop the first photomechanical printing technique. He married Maria Anna Deuringer on November 26, 1853, and the couple had one son, Eugen.
In 1857, Mr. Albert was appointed to the illustrious position of court photographer (also known as Hoffotographer) by the Bavarian royal family. As his professional life flourished, his personal life floundered. Within a year, he went back to Munich to secure a legal separation from his wife, and then returned to court, where he photographed Maximilian II and his young son, who ascended to the throne after his father's death as Ludwig II. The court photographer and young monarch became extremely close, as his lenses deftly documented Ludwig's coming of age. Mr. Albert's camera also recorded official royal events as well as Bavarian castles and buildings of great historical and cultural significance. His studio featured one of the first known solar cameras, constructed by Hoffotographer Jacob Wothly, and employed some of Germany's most impressive scientific minds, most notably chemist Johann Baptist Obernetter.
Despite his busy schedule at court, Mr. Albert nevertheless found time for technical experimentation, and worked tirelessly to improve the flawed collotype process. In 1868, he introduced the Albertype, which allowed photographs to be successfully reproduced and printed onto paper, linen, and silk. The Albertype revolutionized the photo printing industry by allowing a flatbed press to produce up to 1,000 copies at a time. Not surprisingly, many of Mr. Albert's most popular and profitable prints were portraits of the Bavarian royal family and their castle grounds, such as its sophisticated hothouse for exotic plants.
His printing facility was fully equipped with Mr. Albert's latest inventions, which included a high-speed rotary collotype and a tricolor collotype printing process.
By 1879, Mr. Albert was happily remarried to his long-time mistress Pauline Schlosser, and began focusing nearly exclusively on portraiture. His photographs of composer Richard Wagner, taken over a period of nearly 20 years, are among his most celebrated works. In 1882, his Munich gallery, located on the fashionable Karlstrasse, featured on its tastefully decorated walls silver portraits of some of Germany's most distinguished dignitaries.
Joseph Albert died on May 5, 1886 at the age of 61. His widow and studio assistant Pauline assumed his title of court photographer, and art dealer Adalbert Roeper co-owned the studio until its dissolution. Though remembered today primarily for his Albertype invention, Joseph Albert deserves equal recognition as a gifted portraitist.
2017 Albert, Joseph: München, Residenz – Wintergarten König Ludwigs II., nach Osten (URL: http://www.zeno.org/Fotografien/B/Albert,+Joseph%3A+M%C3%BCnchen,+Residenz+%C2%96+Wintergarten+K%C3%B6nig+Ludwigs+II.,+nach+Osten).
1886 The American Bookmaker, Vol. III (New York: Howard Lockwood & Co.), p. 122.
1886 Anthony’s Photographic Bulletin, Vol. XVII (New York: E. & H. T. Anthony & Co.), p. 330.
2015 Belgian Photographic Literature of the 19th Century by Steven F. Joseph (Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press), p. 35.
2007 Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, Vol. I (New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group LLC), pp. 191, 313-314, 583.
2017 King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-86) (URL: https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/2913874/king-ludwig-ii-of-bavaria-1845-86).
2011 Konig Ludwig II by Heinz Gebhardt (Munich: Stiebner Verlag GmbH), p. 116
2002 Mapping the Spectrum by Klaus Hentschel (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press), p. 159.
1890 The Photographic Times, Vol. XX (New York: The Photographic Times Publishing Association), p. 563.
2001 Photography and Research in Austria – Vienna, the Door to the European East (Vienna, Austria: Austrian National Library), pp. 70-71.
2017 The Rise of the Image edited by Rodney Palmer and Thomas Frangenberg (London: Routledge), p. 227.
1882 The Studios of Europe by Henry Baden Pritchard (New York: E. & H. T. Anthony & Co.), p. 267.
2001 The Wagner Compendium: A Guide To Wagner's Life and Music edited by Barry Millington (URL: https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0500770999).
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