Marc Gambier

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Figure 1 – Image by Marc Gambier of Rose Zazel, the “first female human canonball.” In the public domain in the United States because of its age.


Yesterday I discussed the work of Marc Gambier (1838-1900), who was the gre,at colorist for Napoleon Sarony. As with other people who were trained by Sarony, Gambier ultimately went on to open his own photographic studio. Gambier was trained in France as a draughtsman and miniature painter. He fled the unrest, and starvation, of the Franco-Prussian War, in which he fought in 1870. He came to the United States in 1871. In 1879 he formed a partnership with the painter J. J. Schlumberger, called “Marc & Schlum.” Two years later Schluberger left the business and Gambier remained in his Broadway Studio until financial difficulties forced him to focus on painting.Like Sarony, much of Gambier’s photographs were of Broadway celebrities. What is significant of his work is that while Sarony waited for his subjects to come to him, Gambier took his camera to the celebrity.

I could not resist illustrating this blog with a cabinet card portrait by Gambier of Miss Rose Zazel, who was  the first female “human canonball.” Notice that she is wearing her namesake rose as well as the feminine touches of a necklace, bracelet, and earrings. And, of course, the costume was rather risque for the day. At one point, Rose toured with the PT Barnum Circus. Eventually, she unfortunately suffered a career ending injury, missing her safety net and breaking her back.

This entry was posted in History of Photography.