This boudoir card photograph came to me from Maine. The boudoir card format appeared in the mid-1880s as a slightly larger and more expensive alternative to cabinet cards. The larger size was particularly suitable for group portraits.* This one was taken in the town of Pirmasens, Germany, near the border with France. The studio belonged to a photographer named Fritz Walloth. Other examples of his work can be found online, but I have yet to find any information about him.
(*The photo itself is approximately 5.25 x 8 inches, or about 13 x 20 cm. The mount is half an inch longer. You can see a scan of the whole card here.)
The group in the photo isn’t identified. The website of the Municipal Hospital of Pirmasens, which opened in 1988, offers some history in English:
By 1890, the population of Pirmasens had climbed to 21,000 as a result of the rapid development of the shoe industry. A new and significantly larger hospital was built on Lemberger Straße – just a stone’s throw from the current hospital. The facility opened in 1894 and was expanded between 1914 and 1960. The structure survived both world wars almost unscathed. Since 1991, that building has been run by Caritas as a retirement and nursing home.
My guess would be that the photo was taken in connection with the opening of the new hospital in 1894. The opening would have been a major event for the town. Positions at the hospital might have required higher levels of training than at other facilities. Modern medical care would have been a source of pride for the town and for many of the doctors and nurses who provided it.
As 2020 comes to an end, medical professionals around the world continue to work heroically, often at great personal sacrifice. I sincerely hope the new year brings them some relief. I also hope the world will continue to honor their sacrifices and their professionalism after the crisis has passed.