This portrait shows Elsie Thompson Harrison of Brighton Square, Dublin in her nursing uniform and it was most likely taken during World War One. Her family are listed on the 1911 census as owning a hardware business and as being part of the Plymouth Brethern – an evangelical movement established in Dublin in the 1820s. Her brother had the unusual name of Gordon Trizzant Harrison and I was able to discover that her sister studied at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art. I have located her on the online registers for the college: an excellent resource which is available through the website of the National College of Art and Design.
The portrait was taken by a firm called Lloyd’s of Dublin. Directories show that they were based at 30 Grafton Street from ca. 1910 until 1939. It was run firstly by E. Henry Lloyd and then by H. Lawrence Lloyd. The format is sized between a carte-de-visite and a cabinet card and has beveled gilt edges. The printing process is quite like those which were popular with Fine Art photographers for their grainy and painterly effects. Whatever the process used by Lloyd, its warm hues and the soft focus add to the subject matter and lend a sombre atmosphere to the portrait.
In contrast Lloyd also traded under the name of Mr Stickyback! See here for an overview of the sticky back photographic craze of the 1910s.
It is not clear whether or not Elsie was a fully trained nurse. Guilds and voluntary groups met throughout the country to prepare packs for soldiers or to take basic First Aid lessons, however, her decision to go to a studio in her uniform may indicate that nursing represented paid employment for her. The census shows that her sister had to earn her living as she is listed as an ‘Art Teacher and Governess.’