I’ve written a few blog posts on the photographic references within Joyce’s Ulysses including one on Milly Bloom’s photographic apprenticeship. This Bloomsday, I thought I’d focus on two celebrity portraits which were referenced within the book. Part II, Episode Thirteen, Nausicaä, takes place on Sandymount Strand. The young woman Gerty MacDowell notices that Leopold Bloom is looking at her and his appearance reminds her favourably of Martin Harvey, an actor, who was known for his exotic looks: “She could see at once by his dark eyes and his pale intellectual face that he was a foreigner, the image of the photo she had of Martin Harvey, the matinée idol.”
English actor Martin Harvey (1863-1944) appeared on stage in Ireland on many occasions and according to The Irish Times of the 26th November 1904, crowds thronged to see him in the Theatre Royal where he performed Hamlet. His photograph was taken in the same month by Chancellor’s of Dublin and doubtless it sold well.
The actress and beauty Maud Branscombe (active 1870s-1880s) is referenced by Joyce in Episode 17, Ithaca. A faded copy of her portrait is included in a mental inventory that Bloom makes of the contents of a cabinet at his home 7 Eccles Street. She belongs to a previous generation, her heyday being the 1880s, when she made more money from photographic sales than from acting. 65 photographic portraits of her can be found in the collection of the New York Public Library and the following quotation, dating from 1887, elaborates upon her fame:
“Maud Branscombe, the actress, has been the best photographed individual the world has probably ever known. She has four or five years been playing in England, whence she had come to this country, where copies of her face were most numerous and their sales heaviest. In private she is not of attractive appearance, but her features are such that above the shoulders she ‘takes well’ in almost every one of the numberless positions in which she has been placed before the camera. One of her cartes has so saintly an aspect that it has often been taken for that of a nun, which is perhaps the highest compliment that can possibly be paid to a burlesque actress.”
I really like the way Joyce uses these popular cultural references and how they demonstrate the ubiquity of celebrity culture and its interaction with photography.
Posted in James Joyce and Photography | Tagged 1900s Ireland, 1900s Theatre, Bloomsday, Celebrity Carte-de-Visite, Dublin in 1904, James Joyce, James Joyce and Photography, Martin Harvey, Maud Branscombe, Theatre in Ireland, Ulysses | Leave a Comment »
This photographic souvenir of the Students’ Union Fête at Queen’s College, Belfast was produced by the well-known photographer Abernethy. The 1894 fête/fair was organised to raise funds for a new building and was a spectacular event. Its various attractions and exhibits are outlined in detail in an accompanying guide called The Book of the Fair which was published by Olley & Co. It provides a fascinating insight into the commercial and social life of the city in the late nineteenth century.
The stalls were run by students and the wives and daughters of local aristocracy and merchants. George Morrow & Son provided the decoration for part of a spectacle known as Pomona’s Palace which featured an Enchanted Forest and the Realm of the Ice King! Stallholders adopted various costumes and these were outlined in detail in the guide. The Art stall attendants were dressed in “the style of Kate Greenaway.” Medical students wore a skull and crossbones motif. The women at stall No. 7 entitled ‘The Snowdrift’ wore “white crepon dresses, white white silk fichus, white picture hats with plumes, and powdered hair.”
The photographic stall was run by the city’s foremost commercial photographic firms including Allison & Allison, Hembry, Kilpatrick, Nielsen and Reid Brothers. A photographic studio was constructed on the grounds of the college which was sponsored by James Wilson and guaranteed that “sitters will receive finished proofs within a few hours.” In addition to cabinet photographs the photographers offered ‘Midget’ photographs like the one featured above. I was able to ascertain that this portrait was taken by Abernethy on either Friday 26th of May or Saturday the 27th. Abernethy advertised elsewhere in the guide boasting that he had two premises: one at High Street, Belfast and a Printing and Finishing works at Bloomfield stating that “work finished in the suburbs is free from fog and smoke, which often spoil photographs finished in the city.”
The other advertisements in the guide give a real flavour of the city’s commercial life and included: Dunville & Co. Limited, Royal Irish Distilleries, Belfast who claimed to be the largest holders of whiskey in the world; The Franklin Steam Laundry, Belfast to whom one could send dirty linen by train; Anderson Brothers, 12 Royal Avenue, Belfast who specialised in re-covering umbrellas and another advertisement offered the ‘Martlet’ brand of non-alcoholic Pilsener for “advocates of temperance.”
I really like the fact that this portrait can be linked to a specific event and despite its small size, only H 48mm x W 28mm, the image is strong and clear. The surrounding mount depicts the college’s main building designed by Charles Lanyon in a Gothic Revival style. Whoever the sitter was, I hope he enjoyed all the fun of the fair which included a ‘Living Aunt Sally’ under the management of the Arts Students and a performance by the Clifton Banjo Society!
Posted in Belfast Photographers | Tagged 1890s Belfast, Abernethy Photographers, Belfast, Belfast Photographic Studios, Irish Studio Photography, Queen's College, Queen's University Belfast | Leave a Comment »
This bizarre object is evidence of heavy-handed colouring carried out to such an extent that the original photograph is almost totally obscured. The cartouche on the back of the carte-de-visite reads ‘Truth and Light’ – a popular motto for photographers – although in this case the ‘truthfulness’ of the image may have been somewhat lost.
The upholstered leather chair is just about visible in the background. The child’s hair resembles a mohican style with the sides brushed or gelled back and the curls piled up on top. His/Her face has been deliberately scored or scratched which is a pity, however, the expression can still be made out.
The photograph was taken by Edmund G. Ganly (1843-1930), who announced the opening of his business in The Irish Times on the 3rd of October 1868 as follows:
“Important photographic notice – Mr. Edmund G. Ganly. Late principal photographer to Mr. J. Simonton, 70 Grafton Street, Begs respectfully to announce to the nobility, gentry and the inhabitants of Dublin and its vicinity, that he has opened the studio, 43 Grafton Street. N.B. 10 doors from Stephen’s Green. “
The Simonton studio mentioned above features in some of my earlier blog posts and was also known as The Royal Panopticon of Science and Art. By 1888 Ganly had moved to London and was to continue in the photographic trade for many years.
On another note, I am delighted to be speaking at a conference in Dublin next week: ‘Object Matters: the material and visual culture of the Easter Rising’ is taking place at the Civic Offices next Friday and Saturday, 26th and 27th of April. The full programme is available here.
Posted in Hand-coloured Photographs | Tagged 1860s Dublin, 1870s Dublin, Children's Costume, Found photos Ireland, Hand-coloured Photographs, Irish Photography, Irish Studio Photography, Vernacular Photography, Victorian Children's Costume | 1 Comment »
This postcard was produced by the Dublin firm of Lawrence and dates from 1913. The photograph was taken to mark the visit of Cardinal Logue to the ancient pilgrimage site on Station Island, Lough Derg, County Donegal. The barefooted pilgrims contrast with the group of dignitaries and clergymen who all appear to be well-shod. The fashionably dressed woman on the right of the image wears a long skirt and white blouse with leg-o-mutton sleeves (see the National Library of Ireland’s catalogue for a variant of this photograph minus this woman).
The previous year saw the opening of a new women’s hostel on the island. This concrete building, which is on the right of the photograph, was designed by William A. Scott. It cost £8,000 to build and according to Paul Larmour was one of a small number of proto-modern buildings erected in Ireland in the early twentieth century (1). One wonders how the female pilgrims might have felt about the cardinal’s Lenten speech of 1912 in which condemned those “masculine females who wanted not alone to be equal to men in everything but to supplant them if possible.” (2)
The traditional pilgrimage includes three-days of fasting and praying and has captured the imagination of writers and poets from William Carleton to Patrick Kavanagh and Seamus Heaney. It is believed that its significance as a sacred site pre-dates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and centred around a cave which has since been filled-in. The pilgrimage has retained its popularity with over 20,000 people visiting each year.
The year of the cardinal’s visit has a special resonance with those interested in the history of the labour movement in Ireland. The Dublin Lock-out was a major industrial dispute which took place between August 1913 and January 1914. It appears that the cardinal was not sympathetic to the union leader James Larkin. In a letter to Archbishop Walsh on the 6th November 1913, he states that “judging by the speeches, the Larkinites and their abettors do not want a settlement. They are working not in the interests of the men but using the unfortunate men for the purpose of propagating and establishing their socialistic and syndicalist principles.”(3) Unfortunately, the workers were forced to return to work without the better pay and conditions they sought.
James Plunkett’s historical novel Strumpet City is set during this period and provides an excellent picture of the city. It is the title chosen by Dublin City Council for its ‘One City, One Book’ initiative in 2013 and there are many associated events taking place throughout the month of April.
(1) Paul Larmour, Free State Architecture: Modern Movement Architecture in Ireland, 1922-1949, Kinsale, Cork: Gandon Editions, 2009, 8-10.
(2) Quoted in Joseph V. O’Brien, Dear, Dirty Dublin, Berkeley, California: University of California, 1982, 248.
(3) Quoted in Dermot Keogh, The Rise of the Working Class: the Dublin Trade Union Movement and Labour Leadership, 1890-1914, Belfast: Appletree Press, 1982, 264.
Posted in Irish Postcards | Tagged 1910s fashion, 1910s Ireland, 1913 Ireland, 1913 Lockout, Cardinal Logue, Catholic Church Ireland, County Donegal, Irish architecture, Lawrence postcards Dublin, Lough Derg, Religious practice in Ireland | Leave a Comment »
I bought this photograph because I love images of girls wearing glasses. Her cloche hat, tapestry/brocade coat and corsage epitomise 1920s cool. The photograph was taken in The Central Studio, 13 North Earl Street, Dublin. Little did I know, that the women who ran the studio were just as fascinating as the image.
Harriette E. Lavery is listed in the Thom’s directory as the studio’s occupant from 1918 until 1946. I located her family on the 1901 census where she was living in Belfast with her father, a photographer, thus demonstrating a link to the trade. However, my explorations became more interesting when I found a link to a site showing Harriette’s memorial card stating that she died in 1923 from anthrax poisoning! It appears that the forty-six year old widow contracted her illness during her imprisonment for Civil War Republican activities. Harriette was jailed alongside her daughter, Maynie (1901-1976), in Kilmainham Gaol and the North Dublin Union. Maynie was an active member of Cumann na mBan and her future husband, Ned Reid was imprisoned in Marlborough Prison during the same period. (For further details see Sinéad McCoole’s No Ordinary Women: Irish Female Activists in the Revolutionary Years 1900-1923, Dublin: The O’Brien Press, 2003)
Maynie continued the business after her mother’s death but no change was made to the Thom’s listing. Over the twenty-seven years’ that the photographic studio was based at this address its neighbours included Keenan’s café, the Russell hairdressing saloon and the Maypole Dairy. At one stage, the Lavery family also ran a café at No.13 which they called ‘Dalriada.’ This was also the name of a hotel owned by Harriette’s maternal family at the seaside village of Howth, County Dublin.
Posted in Dublin Studio Portraits | Tagged 1920s fashions, 1920s Ireland, Cloche hats, Cumann na mBan, Dublin photographic studios, Irish Civil War, Irish Photography, Irish Studio Photography, Irish women photographers, North Earl Street Dublin, Vernacular Photography, Women photographers | 4 Comments »
This little girl, Ada Josephine Cowper, was born in Dublin in 1865 and her family lived at 29 Fitzwilliam Place. Thanks to the online availability of church records I have been able to find out something about her life. Her marriage, at the age of twenty-seven, to Ernest Henry Knox resulted in a move to his family home Greenwoodpark, Crossmolina, County Mayo where he was a land agent. The house which was built in 1814 is now a ruin.
Ada had two children, Ada Eveleen and the exotically named Zinna Ethel! Zinna married into the Toler-Aylward family of Shankill Castle, Paulstown, County Kilkenny and it was there that Ada senior died at the age of 71 on the 6th of November 1936!
The grandly named Royal Panopticon of Science & Art was run by James Simonton. It opened to much fanfare in 1862, five years’ before Ada’s photograph was taken. Simonton had been involved in several photographic partnerships prior to this solo endeavour. Before establishing himself at 70 Grafton Street (note the typo on the card above), he was based on Dublin’s other main thoroughfare, Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street).
Simonton spared no expense on the decoration and design of his new premises and an article in The Irish Builder of July 1862 elaborates upon the studio’s mahogany fittings, spacious staircase adorned with sculpture and ‘encaustic tile pavement and richly ornamented soffet.’ In addition to the photographic trade Simonton also displayed paintings, dioramas and scientific inventions. At the time of his marriage in 1859 to Frances Isabella Harricks he listed his occupation as ‘artist’ so it is no surprise that he was to host discussions on artistic matters.
Simonton’s business thrived during the 1860s and early 70s as he benefited from the carte-de-visite craze, however, he announced in 1875 that he was retiring from the ‘fancy goods’ trade and filed for bankruptcy in 1876. He attempted to open a public house in the 1880s but his application for a licence was not successful. Instead, he reverted to photography and entered into partnership with a man called Edwards with whom he ran a business at 28 Grafton Street until 1883.
Posted in 1860s | Tagged 1860s Dublin, Ada Josephine Cowper, Children's Costume, Fashion 1860s, James Simonton, Studio Portraits, Victorian Children | 10 Comments »
These photographs form part of a series taken by an amateur photographer ca. 1975. They had been put together into a scrapbook with the title ‘The River Liffey – From Leixlip to Bull Wall’ and follow the path of the river from County Kildare to the city. As they were taken from the river they give a different perspective on some well-known views. What I like about them is that they show Dublin during a time of transition and these images, in particular, depict two major developments which were to change the landscape of the city: the Civic Offices at Wood Quay and the Central Bank Headquarters at Dame Street.
The image above shows the site which was cleared for the construction of the Sam Stephenson designed Civic Offices at Wood Quay. The site was purchased by Dublin Corporation, however, excavations revealed that it was a major Viking settlement. See here for a photograph of the novel O’Meara’s ‘Irish House’ pub and bustling street-scape which were razed to make way for this development. Further archaeological excavations were conducted at intervals between 1974 and 1981. Controversially, and despite much protest, the decision was made to go ahead with construction. As ever the Dublin blog, Come Here to Me has several excellent posts on both Wood Quay and Central Bank.
Further down the Liffey, we can see the partially constructed Central Bank Headquarters on Dame Street. This building, also by Sam Stephenson, took several years to complete. My guess is that these photographs were taken sometime between 1974 and 1976 during the hiatus in construction which followed on from complaints that the building exceeded its planned height. You can see from the photograph that the central core has been built, however, the floors have not yet been put in place.
Whilst I would question the appropriateness of the sites chosen for both buildings, I quite like the Brutalist style of architecture favoured by Stephenson. Indeed, some recent photographs by Artur Sikora demonstrate how beautiful the Central Bank is. The whole period is very interesting in that much of the cityscape changed during this time and not always for the best. Frank McDonald’s The Destruction of Dublin outlines much of this change and the poor planning decisions made by both national and local politicians. The Central Bank is due to relocate to Anglo Irish Bank’s unfinished headquarters at North Wall Quay by 2015, leaving this iconic building vacant just thirty-five years’ after its construction!
Posted in Sam Stephenson | Tagged 1970s Dublin, 1980s Dublin, Brutalist architecture, Central Bank Dame Street, Christ Church Cathedral, River Liffey, Sam Stephenson, Wood Quay | 1 Comment »