This pair of cartes de visite typify the type of inexpensive studio portrait produced in the 1860s and 70s. They are remarkably similar even though they were taken by two different studios on Westmoreland Street, Dublin. The crude tinting blurred the individual features and produces a mask-like appearance. Only the painted backdrop and furniture styles differentiate the studios from each other.
Despite the claims of excellence made by both studios, they display a standardisation of pose that the format’s detractors frequently pointed out. The craze for these inexpensive portraits reached its peak on the 1860s and this is reflected by the sheer number of studios on three of the main streets of the capital: Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street); Westmoreland Street and Grafton Street. This strip became known as ‘The photographic mile’ and at one time boasted over 60 studios.
The man with the tinted cheeks was taken by Forster’s who were according to an 1868 advertisement situated on the ‘drawing room’ floor of 30 Westmoreland Street. Access was through the front door of the New Medical Hall. Forster entered into several partnerships – in March 1862 he was in business with Mr. A.J. Scott, however, by February 16th, 1864 he was working alongside T.F. Haskoll. This partnership was in turn dissolved by 1864 when Haskoll set up on his studio own at 118 Grafton Street.
The firm of Lauder appears to have been more stable venture as it continued in business into the 20th century. Another branch of the family started the famous and highly successful Lafayette studio. The following advertisement by Lauder from 1878 gives an indication of the claims made by the studios “Lauder have made most important alterations and improvements in their principal galleries, by means of which photographs are now produced in half the usual time, thereby rendering them more natural, pleasing and successful, and have spared no expense in providing the best lenses and apparatus and a great variety of new and beautiful scenery accessories.”