Just a quick post to bring your attention to an exciting project which features the type of vernacular photography that I love. ‘Man on Bridge’ is a documentary which will look at the work of Arthur Fields, a Dublin street photographer who worked on O’Connell Bridge for over 50 years. I have a few of his images in my collection including this one of a group of young men taken in the 1950s. You can find out more about the project and how to support it here.
The photographs below are slightly earlier and were taken on O’Connell Street. The back of one of the prints outlines the contact details for Irish Walking Films where the photographs could be collected.
Posted in Dublin Street Photography | Tagged Arthur Fields, Irish Walking Films, Man on Bridge, O'Connell Street Dublin, Street Photography, Street Photography Dublin | 2 Comments »
My guess is that these colour photographs of the West of Ireland were most likely taken by a professional photographer as the verso refers to them as test shots. The warm brown tones and violet blues are more subtle than the hyper coloured images taken by John Hinde. Indeed, this first image is reminiscent of Hinde’s famous photograph of the red haired boy and his sister which featured on a 1960s postcard. Both photographs were taken in Connemara and show a donkey and a creel of turf. See here for Seán Hillen’s collage based on the iconic postcard.
I love the angle from which this photograph was taken. It is captioned as follows: ‘Cargo being unloaded into currachs from C.I.E. ship Noamh Éanna, Off Inisheer, Aran Islands, 8th August 1968.’ The figure in the top right hand corner and the third boat, which is only partially visible, add interest to its composition.
The third street scene is full of the browns and orange hues which are typical of late ’60s colour photography. It features two shops on Ellison Street, Castlebar, County Mayo. These are Peter Dever’s grocery which is proclaimed on the shop front as ‘The House for Bacon’ and Beckett’s tobacconist. I have previously posted kodachrome slides taken during the same period, however, the colours were more saturated with stronger reds than in these prints. I’ve been reading The Genius of Colour Photography by Pamela Roberts which contains some great examples of the art of colour photography although I have yet to identify what type of film was used in these Irish photographs.
On another matter, I am giving two talks during heritage week later this month: one on photographs of the families of participants in the 1916 Rising at the Pearse Museum, Rathfarnham (Tuesday 20th) and another on dating family photographs at the National Library of Ireland (Friday 23rd).
Posted in Colour Photography in Ireland | Tagged 1960s Colour Photography, 1960s Ireland, Aran Islands, Castlebar, Colour photography, Connemara, County Mayo, Currachs, Ellison Street Castlebar, Inisheer Island, Irish shopfronts, West of Ireland | 3 Comments »
I have posted photographs of dogs and their owners taken in Irish studios before and thought that this pair were a nice addition to the series. They were taken by two very different studios: the Wynne business was based in the small town of Castlebar, County Mayo whilst the Werner family had several fashionable locations in Dublin’s city centre.
Louis Werner (1825-1901) came to Ireland from Alsace in the mid-nineteenth century and was originally engaged as a portrait painter. He had switched to photography by the 1860s and I’ve featured several examples of his work elsewhere on the blog. The business was eventually taken over by his his son, Alfred who also exhibited his pictoralist photography internationally at the Chicago World Fair in 1893; the 3rd Exposition d’art photographique, 1896, Paris and the American Institute Photographic Salon, New York, 1899. He favoured the platinotype or platinum print which gives a great tonal range. I love this portrait of two Dublin sisters and their small terrier dog. The girls’ flowing hair is shown beautifully and I reckon, their matching outfits date the photograph to the 1900s.
The earlier carte-de-visite by Wynne’s is great fun. The dog and owner are sporting a similar shaggy hairstyle and the photograph is full of great detail from the woman’s beautiful lace collar worn with a crucifix necklace to the velvet embroidered tablecloth. The National Photographic Archive have an amazing photograph of Thomas J. Wynne advertising his business ca.1880 in which you can zoom in on the details of the products he was selling. By 1901, the family also had branches of their photographic business in Tipperary Town and Loughrea, County Galway, the latter being run by 34 year-old Delia Wynne.
Posted in Photographs of Dogs | Tagged 1900s Dublin, 1910s Dublin, Alfred Werner Photographer, Canine Photography, Castlebar, County Mayo, Dublin Photographers, Irish Studio Photography, Photographs of Dogs, Vintage Dogs, Wynne Photography Mayo | 2 Comments »
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 »