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    La gracia de los retratos antiguos [The Charm of Old Portraits] by Enrique Fernández Ledesma (1950) is required reading to learn about the history of photography in Mexico. It includes a prologue written by the diplomat Marte R. Gómez, as well as a list of daguerreotypists, ambrotypists, and photographers with their respective addresses between1845 and 1880. Gómez’s prologue illustrates the effort of the two compilers and image collectors, Ledesma and Manuel Álvarez Bravo. The book presents a historic review of portraits in daguerreotype, talbotype, ambrotype, and calling cards, etcetera, with text written by Fernández Ledesma as he presents the images.


    La gracia de los retratos antiguos is important because it was one of the first serious efforts—if not the first book—that presented early photographic reproduction techniques in Mexico. Gaffes, surmises, analysis, and descriptions: all these appear among the magnificent images from the first photographic period in Mexico. This historic document is highly valuable for understanding the position in society and operations of the camera-smiths in Mexico City during the first phase of its photography.

    Rebeca Monroy : CURARE A. C.
    CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
    Courtesy of Susana Dávila de Gómez, Jalisco, Mexico
    Biblioteca Justino Fernández del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México