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Posts Tagged ‘1860s Dublin’

In the course of researching this post, I discovered that Dundrearies are long, full sideburns like those worn by the man in this photograph. They became popular in the 1860s and are named after the actor Edward A. Sothern who played the role of Lord Dundreary in Our American Cousin. Piccadilly weepers were another pretty similar style of mutton-chop sideburns. Both are great descriptive terms which have fallen out of use.

This portrait was taken by Frederick H. Mares, probably in the late 1860s or early 1870s, at his studio at 79 Grafton Street, Dublin. He moved from this location in 1875 to another building called The Grafton Studio, at 118 Grafton Street (opposite Trinity College).

The smiling child and the interaction between the sitters are not usual for studio portraits of the era. There is quite a lot going on in background too. Given the small size of the original image (2⅛ × 3½ inches) the tinting is actually quite well executed. The artist who painted the backdrop has cleverly left a break in the scenery into which the sitter could be positioned.

The patterned flooring is the same as that shown on a series of portraits from the studio held by the Minnesota Historical Society which date from the early 1870s.

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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.”

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