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Posts Tagged ‘1870s Ireland’

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This beautiful carte-de-visite was produced by Callaghan, 45 South Mall, Cork ca. 1870. The photographer first appears in the 1867 General Directory of Cork published by Henry & Coghlan. He is listed again in Slater’s Directory for 1870, in Fulton’s City Directory for 1871 and Guy’s Directory for 1875. Indeed, the directories are confusing in that some years he is listed as Timothy or T.J. O’Callaghan and in others as Callaghan without the ‘O’.

I was delighted to come across a reference to the photographer in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society from 1936. The title of the article Timothy O’Callaghan, a Cork lithographer, who printed the prayer book in Irish written by Pól Ó Longán promised much, however, when I called it up in the National Library of Ireland it was only a small note asking the readers if they knew anything about O’Callaghan!

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I love hand-coloured photographs and wonder if this one was painted in the studio or at home by an amateur? During this period, hand-tinting photographs was a popular hobby and tips were given in women’s magazines and journals. In 1871 the Queen’s Institute for the Training and Employment of Educated Women in Molesworth Street, Dublin offered instruction in the hand-tinting of photographs. This course was taken up by young ‘gentlewomen’ hoping to secure a job with one of the many photographers in the city. I like the fact that the painter has highlighted, in blue, only the small detail of the ribbon tying the girl’s hair.

The young girl is wearing a loose-fitting paletot jacket piped with braid. The dropped shoulder sleeves are loose and the collar is in a Mandarian style. The three-buttoned jacket is worn with a wide skirt made from a rough woollen material. The painted backdrop depicts a terrace looking out on a typical pastoral scene. The studio accessories include a lustre wear vase and a small book which is held by the girl as a prop.

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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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The above photograph is a single page from a large album and the caption reads ‘Finaghy House, Belfast, Our home for 4 years. Geoffrey was born in the room with large window on the left’. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to identify who this Geoffrey was though it is likely to be one of the Charley family who owned the house up until about 1885.

The house was then purchased by the Brewis family whose claim to fame is that they bred some of the first Corgi dogs owned by the English Royal family! It is now a nursing home and I think the formal gardens in front of the house have changed considerably. 

I reckon that the above image dates from either the 1870s or early 1880s, as the woman’s outfit includes an elaborately draped top skirt and silhouette which was typical of the period. However, as I cannot see the extent of the bustle it is quite hard to give a precise date.

Overall, I like the careful positioning of the figures within the landscape and the caption which shows the importance of this place for one family. 

 

 

 

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