Annie Besant Albumen Cabinet Card


Only 1 remaining

Annie Besant Albumen Cabinet Card. 4 x 2.5 inches (10.3 x 6.4 cm). c1880. Photograph taken by Hayman Seleg Mendelssohn.  Good condition, slight foxing present, sepia darkened with age. The bottom of the photograph is annotated 'Mrs Besant.' Rare.

'Annie Besant (née Wood; 1 October 1847 – 20 September 1933) was a British socialist, theosophist, women's rights activist, writer, orator, educationist, and philanthropist. Regarded as a champion of human freedom, she was an ardent supporter of both Irish and Indian self-rule. She was a prolific author with over three hundred books and pamphlets.
In the late 1880s Besant studied at the Birkbeck Literary and Scientific Institution, where her religious and political activities caused alarm. At one point the Institution's governors sought to withhold the publication of her exam results.

Besant's intellectual journey had always involved a spiritual dimension, a quest for transformation of the whole person. As her interest in theosophy deepened, she allowed her membership of the Fabian Society to lapse (1890) and broke her links with the Marxists. In 1899 after reading The Secret Doctrine, a book by H. P. Blavatsky, she met the author in Paris.
In her Autobiography, Besant follows her chapter on "Socialism" with "Through Storm to Peace", the peace of Theosophy. In 1888, she described herself as "marching toward the Theosophy" that would be the "glory" of her life. When Blavatsky died in 1891, Besant was left as one of the leading figures in theosophy and in 1893 she represented it at the Chicago World Fair.
In 1893, soon after becoming a member of the Theosophical Society, she went to India for the first time. Besant devoted much of her energy not only to the society but also to India's freedom and progress. Besant Nagar, a neighbourhood near the Theosophical Society in Chennai, is named in her honour.

Thought-Forms: A Record of Clairvoyant Investigation was compiled by A. Besant and C. W. Leadbeater. It was originally published in 1901 in London. According to professor Ellwood, the book had a large influence on modern art. "It suggested, to a world moving rapidly beyond the literalism of Victorian art, the expression in painting of surreal forms and forces underlying, but different from, the visible world." It had a great influence on Kandinsky, as one of the essential factors that led to the "genius opening of new perspectives for painting.
In early January 1901, when this book was published; "Queen Victoria still ruled England. 'Modernism' as a movement or even a concept did not exist. When we consider this world of 1901, it becomes difficult not to believe that Besant, Leadbeater and their milieu deserve a more prominent place in the annals of both abstract art and the history of modernism".'

The cabinet card was a style of photograph which was widely used for photographic portraiture after 1870. It consisted of a thin photograph mounted on a card.
The albumen print, also called albumen silver print, was published in January 1847, by Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard, and was the first commercially exploitable method of producing a photographic print on a paper base from a negative. It used the albumen found in egg whites to bind the photographic chemicals to the paper and became the dominant form of photographic positives from 1855 to the start of the 20th century, with a peak in the 1860-90 period.