A little girl dressed in big girl clothing looks adorable as she posed in the Marceau & Bellsmith studio in Cincinnati, Ohio. The child is wearing an elaborate hat and a large collar pin. She is also wearing a very cute expression which includes a half smile. Colonel Theodore C. Marceau (1859-1922) operated a studio at 285 Fifth Avenue in New York City. The studio was known for producing many celebrity portraits. Marceau was also known for pioneering the creation of national chains of photographic studios in the 1880’s. He became nationally known at the ripe young age of twenty-two when he served as a US government phot0grapher in Santiago, Chile. He was part of an 1882 expedition that recorded the movement of Venus. Later, he served on the staff of Governor Foraker of Ohio, then Governor Markham of California. After leaving public service he lived in Cincinnati (1885-1886) and executed a business strategy that he repeated several times over the years. He would capitalize and build photographic studios, take on a talented local photographers as a partner, build the business, and then sell it to his partner. His first venture took place in Cincinnati and his partner was Randolph “Ralph” P. Bellsmith. The pair produced the photograph seen above. Marceau eventually had branches in Indianapolis, San Francisco, and Boston. His partner in San Francisco was Frederick Bushnell who later built his own chain of studios on the west coast. In 1891 Marceau married a widow named Amanda Fiske and their marriage had a deleterious effect on Marceau’s finances and emotional well being. The marriage was of short duration and Marceau took on his wife’s debts and was rewarded by her habitual infidelity. Marceau took custody of his son and became embroiled in publicity generating divorce proceedings that lasted four years. In 1900 Marceau made New York City his primary operation. For about ten years he ran the Otto Sarony and the Marceau Studios out of New York. Using the Sarony name caused Marceau to fight Jonathan Burrow (purchaser of the Napoleon Sarony Studio) in court. Marceau was described as a skilled raconteur and he became very active in the photography world in New York. In 1905 he cofounded the Professional Photographers Society of New York with Pirie McDonald. Marceau, MacDonald, and B. J. Falk organized the Copyright League to give photographers stronger rights protection of their work. Marceau was quite successful financially. He employed profits from his studios to buy a large amount of New York City real estate. His name appeared in New York’s “Blue Book”. His estate was worth millions of dollars upon his death. His son, a Yale trained lawyer, took over the operation of his father’s studio after his father died but he sold it in 1922. To view the work of Marceau’s Cincinnati partner and to learn more about him, click on the category “Photographer: Bellsmith”.