Anon Pair of Men with Chair

John Athill Frith

Bermudian (1835-1907)

Reproduction print of an original albumen carte de visite


Collection of Bermuda National Gallery

Born in 1835 to formerly enslaved parents, John Athill Frith is
believed to be the first Black commercial photographer in
Bermuda. Talented and entrepreneurial, he started his own studio
in St. George’s in 1866 and there is evidence that he also had
studios in Jamaica and Cuba. Frith’s artistic journey symbolizes
in many ways Bermuda’s evolution to an emancipated society.
Frith produced portraits for both Black and white clients in his
studio in St George’s where he also produced cartes de visite,
small portraits mounted on cards which were used as calling
cards in the mid-19th century. Patented by French photographer
André Disdéri in 1854, this was the first commercially viable
photography process, which was created by producing an albumen
print from a negative using eggs, salt and silver nitrate.

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