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Posts Tagged ‘1860s Dublin’

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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.

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This woman sports one of the most sought after garments of the 1860s. Her spectacular paisley patterned shawl is as voluminous as the crinolined silk skirt it partially covers. A fine shawl such as this was definitely a status symbol!

Numerous outlets throughout Dublin sold shawls including Switzer, Ferguson & Co. at 91-93 Grafton Street. In July 1860, their extensive range included the following: “square and long tissue Grenadines, printed Llama and long and square French and Paisley.”

Also on Grafton Street, the Shawl Warehouse at number 100 was run by James Forest and Sons. On Wednesday, May 31st, 1865, they advertised that they were now “showing their stock of French, Paisley, Norwich and every description of fashionable shawl.”

Shawls were often offered as prizes in raffles such as that run by the Phibsborough Art Union in July 1866 when Mrs Forman won a Paisley shawl in the raffle to benefit St. Peter’s Church, Phibsborough, Dublin.

Shawls were itemised in executors sales and indeed sometimes featured in court cases. The ‘Police Intelligence’ section of The Irish Times for August 2nd, 1870, notes that “Catherine Duffy was brought up in custody on remand, charged by Catherine Butterly with stealing a Paisley shawl from a room in a house at 38 City Quay. Sent to trial for City Sessions.”

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Not all shawls were of the equal quality and the complicated history of the Paisley pattern reveals much about trade between India and Europe. The teardrop shaped pattern has it origins in Iran and the Kashmir region of India. By the nineteenth-century shawls were being made in the Scottish town of Paisley.

Cheaper copies were printed not woven and indeed the finest European shawls did not have as many threads as those imported from India. The woman in this carte-de-visite also wears some high-end accessories such as her parasol and leather goods. Her low-browed spoon bonnet is decorated with artificial flowers and ties in a large bow. This was also the height of fashion for the 1860s!

The photographer on this occasion was Thomas North also based on Grafton Street. The logo he used on his 1860s cards can be viewed here. The firm was at 71 Grafton Street from 1861 until at least 1900.

In the 1901 census, Thomas North is listed a living at 101 Rathmines Road. He was by then 73 years’ of age. Born in Hampshire, England, his second wife Mary Jane was 25 years’ his junior. Amongst those living in the household were two of his sons: the exotically name Theophilus Vese and Thomas Ernest whose occupation was listed as a ‘photographic artist.’ By the 1911 census, Thomas is no longer listed as a photographer and we can assume that the business did not last long after his father’s death.

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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.

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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.

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This little girl, Ada Josephine Cowper, was born in Dublin in 1865 and her family lived at 29 Fitzwilliam Place. Thanks to the online availability of church records I have been able to find out something about her life. Her marriage, at the age of twenty-seven, to Ernest Henry Knox resulted in a move to his family home Greenwoodpark, Crossmolina, County Mayo where he was a land agent. The house which was built in 1814 is now a ruin.

Ada had two children, Ada Eveleen and the exotically named Zinna Ethel! Zinna married into the Toler-Aylward family of Shankill Castle, Paulstown, County Kilkenny and it was there that Ada senior died at the age of 71 on the 6th of November 1936!

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The grandly named Royal Panopticon of Science & Art was run by James Simonton. It opened to much fanfare in 1862, five years’ before Ada’s photograph was taken. Simonton had been involved in several photographic partnerships prior to this solo endeavour. Before establishing himself at 70 Grafton Street (note the typo on the card above), he was based on Dublin’s other main thoroughfare, Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street).

Simonton spared no expense on the decoration and design of his new premises and an article in The Irish Builder of July 1862 elaborates upon the studio’s mahogany fittings, spacious staircase adorned with sculpture and ‘encaustic tile pavement and richly ornamented soffet.’ In addition to the photographic trade Simonton also displayed paintings, dioramas and scientific inventions. At the time of his marriage in 1859 to Frances Isabella Harricks he listed his occupation as ‘artist’ so it is no surprise that he was to host discussions on artistic matters.

Simonton’s business thrived during the 1860s and early 70s as he benefited from the carte-de-visite craze, however, he announced in 1875 that he was retiring from the ‘fancy goods’ trade and filed for bankruptcy in 1876. He attempted to open a public house in the 1880s but his application for a licence was not successful. Instead, he reverted to photography and entered into partnership with a man called Edwards with whom he ran a business at 28 Grafton Street until 1883.

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This post is about photography but it doesn’t include any photographs! The graphics used by Victorian photographers on the backs of their cartes-de-visite were often as interesting as their photographs.

The earliest were backed by copperplate signatures or simple coloured logos. In later decades, Victorian ornamentation intertwined elaborate fonts around stylised flowers and patterns. Art Nouveau influences are to be found in the early 20th century before a return to plainer modernist styles in the 1920s and 30s. The backs I have featured here are all from Irish studios of the 1860s and 70s.

During this period printers often used different coloured inks for photographers’ logos and the ones featured here include an attractive aquamarine, chocolate brown and indigo.

Several of the logos include line drawings of the large box cameras which were used in studios during this period. In addition to the expected camera motif various signs and symbols recur such as the sun and artists’ easels and palettes. Palettes are visible on three of the Irish cards emphasising the artistic nature of photographers.

In attempt to give their studios prestige and pedigree two of the above studios have adopted mottoes. Adolphe of Grafton Street uses ‘Nunquam non paratus’  meaning ‘never unprepared.’ and Thomas North, also of Grafton Street used ‘animo et fide’ which means ‘courageously and faithfully’. One wonders how much courage was required to run a photographic studio during the period?

Other heraldic devices include the belt and buckle which encircles the box camera on the carte by Adolphe and the griffin like creature which appears on the example from A.D. Roche in Cork.

Early designs were probably commissioned from local printers using designs copied from other cards. As the industry grew and progressed specialised firms, based mainly in France and Germany, mass-produced cards which could be customised to include the local studio details. An example by one such company, Marion, was used by Hugh Kerr from Northern Ireland. Roger Vaughan has written a very detailed guide to dating the cards produced by this company which is available here and shows that the card above was from the company’s earlier period of the 1860s or 70s.

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These early cricket-related photographs show two brothers, David and John Drummond, the sons of the wealthy businessman and philanthropist David Drummond. The portraits were taken in the mid-1860s when the photographic trade was thriving and the Lauder Brothers ran studios on both Sackville Street and Westmoreland Street. I love the elaborate backdrop with the stairs stretching into the distance. The backs of the cartes give different addresses although it is obvious that both photographs were taken in the same studio and at the same time.

I have been able to trace what happened to little David who became a renowned physician in England. He was born in 1852 and his obituary even mentions his love of cricket! I am not too sure what became of John. Their Rathgar home was called Dunfillan House and the conservatory, commissioned by their father, was recently renovated with assistance from the Irish Georgian society.

Both boys are wearing quite fancy outfits which may or may not be part of their school or cricket uniforms – they attended Rathmines School. I was able to locate a newspaper report on a cricket match which took place in Bray the 1st of October 1867 and in which David played a major part: “Rathmines School C.C. brought its season to a close on Saturday last by winning two signal victories… At Bray the Second Eleven encountered Bray College C.C., and won by 131 runs, Mr. David Drummond scoring 40 … Mr Drummond’s bowling excited general admiration.”

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The elaborate outfits worn by these two little sisters are typical of the styles of the 1860s. Bell-shaped crinolines were worn at a shorter length by girls and reveal lace-up boots with patent leather toecaps. Their hair is parted in the middle and the straw bonnet matches the monochrome theme of their summer clothes. 

Thankfully someone had the foresight to date the image which was taken in 1862 by the studio of F.H. Mares, whose work I have previously featured on this blog. The studio was located on Grafton Street near to the business of Mademoiselle de Groots. According to The Irish Times of Wednesday 22nd October 1862, her warehouse at number 45 sold the following items which she had recently obtained in Paris: “corsets et ceintures; lingerie, crinolines, zouaves, etc.”

The Zouave jacket is a coloured and sometimes braided garment based on the uniform of an infantry regiment of the French Army. The were very popular during this period as illustrated by fashion plates from Godey’s Magazine.

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