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Archive for the ‘Vernacular Photography’ Category

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Carte-de-visite by John Lawrence, Dublin, 1860s Source: Author’s collection

This carte-de-visite photograph was taken in the 1860s at John Fortune Lawrence’s photographic studio and Civet Cat Bazaar. The cat referred to in the business name is a nocturnal mammal associated with ‘fox dung coffee’ which is produced when coffee berries are harvested from the droppings of the Asian palm civet! In addition to a photographic studio, Lawrence also sold toys, sports equipment and fancy goods from his premises at 39 Grafton Street, Dublin.

This little girl, standing doll-like on a studio chair, is wearing an off-the-shoulder wide hemmed silk dress which typifies the 1860s. A single string of coral was believed to protect her health. She wears bloomers and white socks with black patent leather hook-and-eye boots. The hairstyle is very on trend: short, parted in the middle and swept behind her ears with a hairband. Overall her outfit is very like that worn by Princess Beatrice in a photo session from May 1860. In it Beatrice was photographed with her mother Queen Victoria by John Jabez Edwin Mayall and you can see here that her hairstyle, necklace and boots are very similar.

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Advertisement for Brown, Thomas, and Co., The Nation, 16th April 1864

In 1864, Lawrence employed the architect William George Murray to design several additions to his building (now a Burger King) including a ‘large wareroom, archery gallery for butt shooting and photographic gallery with waiting rooms.’

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Verso of carte-de-visite by John Lawrence, Dublin, 1860s Source: Author’s collection

Advertisements placed by Lawrence reveal Dublin’s rich consumer culture and the wide variety of products that were available. Many of the toys were imported from Germany or France and included magic lanterns, wax and rag dolls, dissected maps, bon-bon boxes, dolls’ houses, clock work toys, panoramas, racing games and tool chests.

Some of the games and toys are unfamiliar to us today, for example, Cannonade was a game of chance played with a teetotum (a small spinning top); Fantoccini figures were puppets imported directly from Italy. Pope Joan was a card game played on a round board. In December 1856, Lawrence offered two very topical games based on the Crimean War: Battle of Inkerman and Siege of Sebastopol.

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Siege of Sebastopol game, Bodleian Libraries

Lawrence was constantly diversifying. In the late 1850s he sold birds and bird cages including parrots, java sparrows, waxbills and indigo birds. In March 1854, he announced that he was the pyrotechnic artist to the Lord Lieutenant. Selling many kinds of fireworks and offering to forward them ‘to all parts of the Kingdom, and competent persons sent to fire them, if required.’ He also made rocking horses covered in natural skins!

In 1863 Lawrence advertises that he is offering the carte-de-visite process along with coloured photographs and he sold albums and celebrity carte-de-visites. One of these was a photograph of General Burke ‘taken since his arrest.’ Burke [Bourke in some notices] was a Fenian leader who was arrested in April 1867. Lawrence was not the only studio selling political carte-de-visites. His notice in The Freeman’s Journal of the 7th of June 1867, appeared alongside one from Lesage’s studio, at 40 Lower Sackville Street which announced the sale of cartes depicting General Burke, John McCafferty and Patrick Doran ‘taken from life in Kilmainham Jail.’ They had been arrested and sentenced to death for high treason causing much uproar during that summer. After large demonstrations their sentences were eventually commuted mainly upon the strength of Burke and McCafferty’s claims to American citizenship. Both had fought in the American Civil War. A photo of McCafferty by Lesage is held in the National Library of Ireland and you can see what he looked like here.

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The Freeman’s Journal, 7th June 1867

John Lawrence (1833-1897) ran his Grafton Street studio from 1854 until 1884 when it was taken over by Louis Werner. Lawrence’s negatives were taken over by his brother William Lawrence whose better known studio was on Sackville street (now O’Connell Street).

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Cabinet Card by Sauvy, 64A Patrick Street, Cork, Ireland, ca. 1885 (author’s collection)

 

 

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Carte-de-visite studio portrait by T. Plimmer, 19 High Street, Belfast, ca. 1885. (author’s collection)

These studio portraits from the 1880s show two unfeasibly narrow-waisted women. One was taken in the Cork studio run by Paris-born Adam Alphonse Sauvy and the other by Thomas Plimmer in Belfast. Of course, these women would have been aided by some seriously constricting corsetry, however, upon closer inspection they also reveal that the photographic studio has aided them with some carefully placed retouching or ‘photoshopping.’

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Both these close-ups show that the negatives have been doctored to create these wasp waists. If you look closely you can see where the waists were quite crudely reduced through the painting-in of a triangular shape on the negative.

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Both outfits typify the mid-1880s. The Belfast lady’s stripped two-piece includes a basque bodice trimmed with jet beads. A high collar with an attached jabot, lace cuffs, and a draped over-skirt. The Cork woman’s lace outfit also includes a draped over-skirt and high neckline. Both wear corsages and the horse-shoe brooch worn at the neck of the Sauvy portrait is typical of the period. Fashionable hair was curled, centre-parted and loosely piled and combed upwards with curls around the forehead.

I love the way the studio props complement and mimic and the textures of the women’s outfits. Brocade curtains and velvet upholstery add to the visual layers in these images.

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National Library of Ireland, Lawrence Collection, L_ROY_01918

Thanks to the preservation of the Lawrence photographic collection at the National Library of Ireland, we can see exactly where the Sauvy image was taken. The image above shows the Paris Studio on the upper floors of 64 Patrick Street, Cork. Unlike many of the studios, which sought cachet through fanciful connections with continental Europe, Sauvy was really born in Paris. He ran his Cork studio at this location between 1879 and 1893. This photograph shows that his studio was well-positioned on a main thoroughfare although he did have plenty of local competition. Other studios on Patrick Street alone included Henry Hunter at No. 28; Berlin Studio at No.61; Francis Guy at No.70 and William O’Callaghan at No. 102. Note the roof top addition which was most likely added around the time of this notice which appeared in the Cork Examiner on the 2nd of October, 1882:

“The photographic art – Mr. A. Sauvy’s studio, in Patrick Street, has undergone enlargement and renovation, and it is now among one of the best in the kingdom. New backgrounds and scenery have been erected in the operating room, while specimens of art on view outside and inside the studio are of the newest and best description. Those who patronize Mr. Sauvy are certain to get well executed photographs.”

Sauvy also had a branch on Dublin’s Grafton Street and appears to have lived in Dublin. One of his addresses was on the upmarket Morehampton Road and one of his children, Celestine, was born at Holles Street hospital in 1884. Sauvy died in Paris in 1916.

The Paris Studio on Partick Street was sold to German-born August Tuhten in 1893. Perhaps Tuhten was one of the many European assistants that Sauvy boasted of in his advertisements? Tuhten was resident in Cork from at least 1882 when he was listed as a mason in Cork’s Hibernian lodge. Prior to his Cork career, he had a family in London with Anna Zimmern. Their three children were born in Stoke Newington, London, in the 1870s. He also had several art-associated ventures in London and Leicester. He ran the Paris Studio in Cork up until the early 1890s. In the 1901 census he is listed as a ‘boarder’ in the Leicester home of Cork-born Louisa McCarthy. One wonders if they met in Cork? Their first child, Ivy, was born in Leeds in 1893 and was registered as Ivy McCarthy. A son Fred was born in Leeds in 1898 and another Alan in London in 1906. The entire family went to Canada in 1907 settling at first in British Columbia. This second relationship does not appear to have lasted and by 1916 August is living alone and states that he is a widow. He died in Hardisty, Alberta, in 1932. Louisa died in Powell River, British Columbia in 1961 at the age of 93.

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