There is so much to like in this hand coloured carte-de-visite from the Dublin studio of M. Allen of 12 Westland Row. In addition to the sea themed backdrop, with its sailing boat on the horizon, the papier mâché rock creates a virtual beach for the lavishly dressed young boy. His two-piece suit of light material includes a jacket with long-sleeves gathered into cuffs. These are trimmed with a band of colour as are the side seams and edges of his shorts. A matching ribbon adorns his straw hat. Candy stripped cotton stockings complement his flat buckled slippers. His elaborate hairstyle of long ringlets with a short fringe is very similar to another little boy’s taken by the same studio in May 1873.
The hand tinting is very well executed and is probably the work of Miss Margaret Allen (1832-1914), the daughter of the studio owner, Mark Allen. Her family had a long association with the Dublin art world and sold art supplies and lithographs. She was definitely involved in the photographic side of her father’s business as an advertisement from 1871 states that “Miss Allen pays particular attention to the photographing of babies and young children.” She was an honorary member of the Royal Hibernian Academy and a notice in The Irish Times of the 21st October 1861 states that she ran classes in ‘Drawing and Painting from Life.’ It informed the people of Dublin that “Miss Allen begs to announce that her academy is open on Tuesday and Friday from nine till five o’clock. A living model poses from ten till three.” Miss Allen’s father died in 1879 and she spent her final years in various boarding houses in Dublin listing her income as “an allowance from a friend.”