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James Joyce was an astute observer of both male and female fashions. Within Ulysses he repeatedly mentions the uncomfortable nature of the stiff collars worn by men and also notes how various styles of necktie signified class and status. I’ve gathered together some contemporaneous Irish images from Dublin, Belfast and Kilkenny photographic studios illustrating the type of attire that Joyce was referring to.

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“Always know a fellow courting: collars and cuffs. Well cocks and lions do the same and stags. Same time might prefer a tie undone or something.” Nausicaa

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“Bloom stood behind the boy with the wreath looking down at his sleek combed hair and at the slender furrowed neck inside his brand new collar.” Hades

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“What caused him irritation in his sitting posture? Inhibitory pressure of collar (size 17) and waistcoat (5 buttons), two articles of clothing superfluous in the costume of mature males and inelastic to alterations of mass by expansion. How was the irritation allayed? He removed his collar, with contained black necktie and collapsible stud, from his neck to a position on the left of the table.” Ithaca

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“He rustled the pleated pages, jerking his chin on his high collar. Barber’s itch. Tight collar he’ll lose his hair. Better leave him the paper and get shut of him.” Lotus-Eaters

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“Master Dignam walked along Nassau street, shifted the pork steaks to his other hand. His collar sprang up again and he tugged it down. The blooming stud was too small for the buttonhole of the shirt, blooming end to it.” Wandering Rocks

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“Dull eye: collar tight on his neck, pressing on a blood vessel or something.” Hades

 

 

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This series of portraits shows members of the rural vocational organisation Muintir na Tíre (People of the Land). Established in 1937, it aimed to counter societal breakdown in rural Ireland. It followed the teaching of the Catholic Church’s encyclical Quadragesimo Anno which hoped to challenge the threat of communism through strong lay and vocational organisation. Eoin Devereux’s 1991 article on Muintir na Tíre noted that it reflected the strong anti-urbanism which prevailed in Ireland during the period and that persists in certain quarters to this day.

The following quotation from the organisation’s 1941 handbook is very revealing: “Country life is not dull. It is the city life that is cheerless and stupid and vapid, degenerate, futile and foreign with its narrow conventions, its artificiality and its purchased amusements.” Despite the organisation’s antagonism towards the urban, Devereux notes that many of its leaders were urban-based professionals.

This accords with the location of the photographer’s studio. J. Dunne worked from 36 Leinster Road in Rathmines, a suburb of Dublin. These portraits are more informal than official passport photographs and more revealing of the sitters’ personalities. From a sartorial point of view their clothes are typical of the 1950s as tweeds and woollens dominate. Tank tops, wide neck ties, thickly framed horn-rimmed glasses were popular with the men. Some wear the pin of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association of the Sacred Heart (PTAA), an Irish organisation for Catholic teetotallers.

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There is more variety in the women’s outfits. One wears a fitted dress with a fur-ruffled collar while another has a broad-shouldered fake fur coat. Tweed is also popular with the ladies as were knitted tops and twin sets. These are adorned with pearls, brooches and lace collars. All wear badges with the organisation’s logo featuring a cross superimposed on a plough, thus linking the rural and the religious.

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The portraits were most likely taken at a function room or in Dunne’s studio in suburban Rathmines where he operated for a short while from 1954. The series is interesting in that it shows a certain cohort of middle-class, respectable, Irish people of a variety of ages. These portraits were instigated, not by the usual familial ties which cause a visit to the photographic studio, but rather by membership of a vocational organisation.JDunne-Portraits-7JDunne-Portraits-9JDunne-Portraits-10 JDunne-Portraits-11 JDunne-Portraits-12

Further reading: Eoin Devereux, ‘Saving rural Ireland – Muintir na Tíre and its Anti-Urbanism, 1931-1958’ in The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 17, 2 (December 1991): 23-40.

Maurice Curtis, A Challenge to Democracy: Militant Catholicism in Modern Ireland. Dublin: The History Press Ireland, 2010.

Maurice Curtis, “Miraculous Meddlers: The Catholic Action Movement.” History Ireland 18, 5 (2010): 34-37.

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This carte-de-visite was taken at Thomas Whittaker’s Dublin Metropolitan Photographic Company in or around 1860. It doesn’t give an address, however, Edward Chandler’s inventory of nineteenth century Irish photographers lists the company as operating ca. 1860 in both Kilkenny and Dublin. It appears that in the capital, Whittaker worked out of 140 Stephen’s Green West and from another address on Grafton Street. Whilst his Kilkenny base was on John Street. According to a discussion on an Irish genealogical site, Whittaker died in 1872 and I think I have located his son’s family on the 1901 census. I’m basing my date of ca. 1860 on both the fashions and the type of card mount that was used. Early 1860s cartes had square rather than rounded corners and the photographer’s name and/or crest were printed in the middle of the card. Whittaker’s crest has enclosed the Dublin City Coat of Arms within a strap and buckle design.

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The fashions worn by the couple are typical of those between 1860 and 1865. She wears a crinoline and the voluminous silk skirt spreads out over the chair and onto the floor. The buttons on her bodice and the brooch pinned to her white collar are made of ebony or vulcanite. The bodice appears to be lightly pleated and gathered and is finished with simple coat sleeves. Her headdress which consists of two plaits is very similar to the one below which was featured in Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1862 (source archive.org).

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The man wears a large loose fitting wool overcoat with wide notched lapels and a contrasting velvet collar. His upturned shirt collar is finished with a loose bow tie. He carries a hat with a wide band, turned-up brim and a telescope style crown. His trousers are wide legged and his laced shoes appear to be well-worn and polished. Together this middle-aged couple are keeping up with the styles of the 1860s.

This is the fourth year that I’ve written about the photographic references within Joyce’s Ulysses. Episode 14, Oxen in the Sun, relates to pregnancy and birth and includes a reference to ‘artistic coloured photographs of prize babies’ whose circulation to pregnant women was recommended. The carte-de-viste below dates to 1880 and is a composite image of thirty-seven smiling babies hovering over the phrase ‘Good Morning.’ Joyce refers to a coloured photograph and curiously page 45 of James Birch’s Babylon: Surreal Babies (Dewi Lewis, 2010) includes the same image reproduced in a pastel tinted postcard printed in Germany and sent from France ca. 1900.

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In Episode 17, Ithaca, Bloom’s mental inventory  of the contents of a cabinet at his home 7 Eccles Street includes ‘fading photographs of Queen Alexandra of England and of Maud Branscombe, actress and professional beauty.’ I’ve featured Maud on a previous Bloomsday post here, however, the photo below shows the Queen whilst she was Princess of Wales and which was taken in 1863 not long after her marriage to Edward the VII. It is hand-tinted and in the carte-de-visite process. Images of Alexandra sold very well throughout her life and she visited Ireland on several occasions.

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Other Ulysses related posts include ‘Milly Bloom and Photography’ and ‘Grandpapa Giltrap’s lovely-dog‘.

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By the late 1850s, according to Priscilla Harris Dalrymple’s Victorian Costume in Early Photographs, it ‘was becoming fashionable to close only the top button of the coat,’ whilst trousers remained creaseless and without turn-ups. These trends were certainly adopted by this young man who had his photograph taken in the little-known studio of I.J. Rice in the town of Mallow, County Cork, ca. 1860. This image may well be the only surviving evidence of Rice’s output. The card’s straight-edges and plain stamp indicate that it is an early example of the carte-de-visite process.

I love the nonchalance of the man’s pose and even though the image has been damaged and marked over the years it is still possible to make out his distinctive attire and striking hairstyle. His lacquered hair is parted on both sides and piled up high in the middle. His watch fob, bow tie and pinky ring have been crudely highlighted with green ink. His bowler or derby hat rests on the ornate studio chair which contrasts with the plain backdrop.

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This image and indeed his pose bear an uncanny resemblance to another photograph from my collection. The portrait below originated in an Irish-American album and is an example of the tintype process which was favoured in the United States. Although separated by thousands of miles, both men are dressed in a very similar manner.

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Stuffed animals were popular props in photographic studios. In an earlier post I refer to a cabinet card by Lafayette which features a stuffed dog! I like the way the photographer has included a hutch for the rabbits to ‘live’ in and also how they have occupied the child in ‘feeding’ the pet. Note how you can see where the backdrop meets the floor covering.

A hand-written note records that the photograph is of ‘Aileen at the age of 4 years and 10 months,’ no surname is provided. The census shows that there were 74 Aileens under ten years’ of age living in Dublin in 1901 and 95 in 1911. Perhaps, she was one of these?

The photograph is in the cabinet card format which was 108 by 165 mm (4¼ by 6½ inches). The back of the card states that the Stanley Studio also specialised in landscapes and that they were based at 22 Westmoreland Street, facing O’Connell Bridge. This address is known as the Lafayette building, after the photographic studio of that name, and was built in 1890 for an insurance company. The Dublin historians who write at Come Here to Me have a post on this building and the Dolphin Hotel which was also designed by J.J O’Callaghan.

The girl’s outfit includes a long-sleeved white cotton smock or dress with matching pantaloons and beautiful white kid leather side-buttoned boots. The dress appears to have several layers and is full of pin-tucks, flounces and scalloped edges. She is wearing a necklace over the broad ruffled collar. Her dress reminds me of the one worn by the painter John Lavery’s stepdaughter in The Artists’ Studio. You can see the painting here. It was completed between 1909 and 1913 a timescale which fits in exactly with that of the Stanley Studio.

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These beautifully dressed children are the Burrells: John Percy, Sermonda and Randulphus Clement who lived at Merrion Square, Dublin. Their cartes-de-visite portraits were taken in 1882 by the firm of Louis Werner, 15 Leinster Street, Dublin whose work is featured elsewhere on this blog. The family’s home was on nearby Merrion Square only a few minutes from Werner’s studio.

Randulphus wears a dark velvet dress tunic with shoulder wide lace collars and matching cuffs. John Percy is sporting a Norfolk style suit of knee length breeches with a long single-breasted jacket buttoned and a waist-belt. An advertisement for the Dublin tailors Hyam, 29 and 30 Dame Street from December 1882, reveals the variety of boys’ suits which were available in the city. They sold the following suit styles: Tunic, Marquis, Norkfolk, Leopold, Napier, Oxford, Cambridge, Refer and Diagonals in materials which included serges, tweeds, worsteds, twills, naps and Cheviots.

Like her brothers Sermonda wears leather buttoned boots. Her frilled tiered skirt includes a layer of tartan patterned material and it is worn over scalloped knickerbockers. Her high-necked belted blouse includes a single row of buttons and she wears a ribbon bow at the back of her head. The photographer’s props include a basket and tennis racket and the novel fake swing upon which John Percy sits.

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Their mother Mary (née Parks) from Golagh House, County Monaghan was one of the earliest biographers of the composer Richard Wagner. She travelled across Europe amassing a substantial collection of manuscripts which were given to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (the archive was subsequently sold and dispersed). Their father, Willoughby Merrik Campbell Burrell, 5th Baron Gwydyr, was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. You can see a striking photographic portrait of him, taken by the renowned London studio of Camille Silvy, here.

The children’s maternal grandfather, Sir John Banks, was president of the College of Physicians who also kept a house at 45 Merrion Square. Unfortunately, his medical connections did not prevent the death of young Randulphus who died aged 6 at 11 Merrion Square in 1882, the year in which these photographs were taken.

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Sermonda is pictured above in two gorgeous portraits taken in June 1877 by the studio of M. Allen & Co., 12 Westland Row, Dublin. You can see another example of the photographer’s work here. Her scalloped white cotton or linen dress is adorned with an outsize tartan bow and sash. The ensemble is typical of the restrictive children’s clothing which often mimicked the styles worn by their parents. Indeed in the second image, the little girl has abandoned the sash and bow and is sitting in a more relaxed pose with one of her button boots upon her lap.

Sermonda attended the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art from an early age. She enrolled at the age of eleven in 1885 and you can see a link to her attendance record (up to1890) here and an example of her work here. Her brother John Percy was to die at the age of 24 having served in the diplomatic corps in Russia. Sermonda married Sir John Henniker-Heaton, the son of a journalist and postal reformer, who was credited with the introduction of the universal penny post. Their daughter compiled her father’s letters into book format and they provide some insights into Sermonda’s personality. She mentions that her parents were frequent visitors to Ireland. Unfortunately, her early home Golagh House, which was built in 1703 was burned down during the Civil War and the rubble used to build the local Catholic Church. Sermonda was to outlive her brother John Percy by 56 years, dying in 1958 at the age of 84. She was buried at Tunbridge Wells, Kent and her grave is pictured here.

One of her adult children, was to disappear in the early 1970s under strange circumstances. John Victor Peregrine Henniker-Heaton went missing from his home in London in 1971, several sightings were reported and some presumed that his disappearance was related to his post-Second World War intelligence activities. In a bizarre twist, his son discovered his father’s skeletal remains in a locked room in their home in 1974. You can read about the unusual case here.

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