Posted in James Joyce and Photography, tagged 1890s Dublin, 1900s Dublin, A Little Cloud, Children's Costume, Dubliners, Eveline, Found Photographs, Irish Photography, Irish Studio Photography, James Joyce, James Joyce and Photography, Sailor Suits, The Dead, Vernacular Photography on April 22, 2012 |
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Dublin City Libraries have chosen James Joyce’s Dubliners to be the featured title in their initiative One City, One Book. I’ve mentioned the book before in earlier posts, however, the project brought to mind several images from my collection which remind me of Joyce’s references to photography within the short stories. I love Joyce’s descriptions of interiors, particularly in The Dead and the following photographs feature similar subjects and conjure up the same atmosphere as occurs in the stories.
From The Dead: “Her photograph stood before the pierglass. She held an open book on her knees and was pointing out something in it to Constantine who, dressed in a man-o-war suit, lay at her feet.”
The man-o-war suit mentioned in the story was a version of the then popular sailor suits worn by little boys during the mid to late nineteenth-century. The trousers in this variety were long legged and were often worn with a wide-brimmed straw hat like the example below from the Werner studio of Grafton Street. Joyce himself was photographed as a young boy wearing a sailor suit.
From A Little Cloud: “It was Annie’s photograph. Little Chandler looked at it, pausing at the thin tight lips. She wore the pale blue summer blouse which he had brought her home as a present one Saturday … He looked coldly into the eyes of the photograph and they answered coldly. Certainly they were pretty and the face itself was pretty. But he found something mean in it. Why was it so unconscious and ladylike? The composure of the eyes irritated him. They repelled him and defied him: there was no passion in them, no rapture.”
I think the expression of the woman above matches that described by Joyce in the story ‘The Little Cloud’. Blouse and skirt combinations were very popular during the 1890s and 1900s – the period during which Joyce wrote Dubliners and when the story is set.
From Eveline: “And yet during all those years she had never found out the name of the priest whose yellowing photograph hung on the wall above the broken harmonium beside the coloured print of the promises made to Blessed Mary May Alacoque. He had been a school friend of her father. Whenever he showed the photograph to a visitor her father used to pass it with a casual word:
‘He is in Melbourne now.’ ”
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Posted in Children's clothing Ireland, tagged 1880s Dublin, 1890s Dublin, 1900s Dublin, Children's Costume, Found Photographs, Irish Photography, Lauder Brothers, Studio Portraits, Vernacular Photography, Westmoreland Street on December 6, 2011 |
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The chill in the air reminded me of this beautiful carte-de-visite showing a Dublin girl in her lavish winter outfit. The expression on her wise little face, peaking out from the large bonnet, makes me think that she might have been a tad precocious and spoilt!
The matching coat, muff and gaiters are made from a material which looks like the fake or fun furs which were popular during my childhood in the 1970s. In my attempt to identify the fabric, I received several suggestions as to what this material might be including an Astrakhan fur, a reversed shearling or a bouclè wool. In general, I find Noreen Marshall’s Dictionary of Children’s Clothes 1700s to Present to be very useful and the excellent photographs in this V&A publication make it a vital resource for the historian of children’s costume.
Lauder Brothers worked from 32 Westmoreland Street from the 1850s to 1900 although I think that this image dates from the later decades of their tenure at this premises. Edward Chandler included several of their card backs in his invaluable book Photography in Ireland: the Nineteenth Century and the example above matches those from the 1890s. I located a similar, although possibly later image, from a Romanian studio on an interesting blog called The Cabinet Card Gallery.
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Posted in Photographs of Irish Workers, tagged 1890s Dublin, 1900s Dublin, Basketmakers in Ireland, Found Photographs, H. Dunbar Phototgrapher, Irish Photography, Irish Studio Photography, O'Connell Street Dublin, Occupational Portraits, Sackville Street Dublin, Vernacular Photography on November 11, 2011 |
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Henry Dunbar based his business in a premises on O’Connell Street which had a long association with the photographic trade. Between 1859 and 1890, number 39 was the building from which Thomas Millard ran his photographic studio. Firstly in partnership as Simonton & Millard; then for a short period in the 1860s trading solely as Thomas Millard and finally working with J.V. Robinson between 1864 and 1889.
Mr Dunbar’s business was not as long-lasting. He appears at this address for the first time in 1889 and died on the 13th December 1905 at the age of 54. The winding-up of his affairs was conducted by his son, Arthur Dunbar, who was a resident of Regent’s Square, York.
I know little more about Dunbar, except that his early adoption of the name O’Connell Street rather than Sackville Street is an indicator of nationalist leanings. In late 1884, the largely nationalist Dublin Corporation had voted to re-name the city’s main thoroughfare in honour of Daniel O’Connell, the champion of Catholic Emancipation. This was not to the liking of the majority of the street’s traders who got a court order preventing the name change. Dunbar was, of course, making a political point by his use of the street’s new name!
The verso of the cabinet card is nicely executed and alludes to the artistic nature of photography. The ‘photographer as artist’ is displayed alongside some typical studio props. This generic design was probably purchased from France or Germany which is where most photographers sourced their card backs.
The photograph itself provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of work during the period. Certain details are typical of Victorian or Edwardian tradesman, for example, the apron and white shirt sleeves. Most wear hats and have impressive moustaches. I love the individual who is posed in the act of ‘hammering’ a basket! Baskets were used to house and transport a wide variety of goods and as late as 1924, Dublin street directories listed nine basket-makers in the centre of the city.
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Fashion doesn’t get more outlandish than these two outfits from different parts of the country. Both date from the 1890s and are extreme to say the least. The Lauder studio of Westmoreland Street captured the thousand yard stare of the young Dublin lady as she balanced her feathered creation upon her head. The waistline of the Kerry lady was probably reduced by the photographer – an early example of photoshopping! This was quite common in the period as the photographer took off a few inches bringing the sitter nearer to the ideal.
A lot of carte-de-visites are very similar and I only buy those that have something a little unusual or extreme about them. I am particularly drawn to the whole Victorian conservatory atmosphere conjured up by the backdrops and props in both photographs. The Tralee photograph includes a Wardian Case in which ferns were grown and both feature palms. Jim Linderman’s project includes some fine hand-painted studio backdrops. I also try to collect as many provincial studio images as possible as I think it expands photographic history beyond the usual city studios.
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