Posted in 1860s Men's Costume, tagged 1860s Cork, Bowler Hats, Carte-de-visite format, Carte-de-visite portrait, Cork Photographers, County Cork, Hand-coloured Photographs, Hand-tinted Photographs, Irish Photography, Male Fashions 19th Century, Mallow, Men’s Victorian Hairstyles, Tintypes, Vernacular Photography, Victorian Men's Costume on June 1, 2015|
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By the late 1850s, according to Priscilla Harris Dalrymple’s Victorian Costume in Early Photographs, it ‘was becoming fashionable to close only the top button of the coat,’ whilst trousers remained creaseless and without turn-ups. These trends were certainly adopted by this young man who had his photograph taken in the little-known studio of I.J. Rice in the town of Mallow, County Cork, ca. 1860. This image may well be the only surviving evidence of Rice’s output. The card’s straight-edges and plain stamp indicate that it is an early example of the carte-de-visite process.
I love the nonchalance of the man’s pose and even though the image has been damaged and marked over the years it is still possible to make out his distinctive attire and striking hairstyle. His lacquered hair is parted on both sides and piled up high in the middle. His watch fob, bow tie and pinky ring have been crudely highlighted with green ink. His bowler or derby hat rests on the ornate studio chair which contrasts with the plain backdrop.
This image and indeed his pose bear an uncanny resemblance to another photograph from my collection. The portrait below originated in an Irish-American album and is an example of the tintype process which was favoured in the United States. Although separated by thousands of miles, both men are dressed in a very similar manner.
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19th century studio photographers often used quirky props to put their customers at their ease, however, it didn’t always work! In an attempt to occupy the patron’s hands in a natural way, Lauder used a dome top bird cage. Robinson’s choice of a tennis racket is quite telling in that the sport was increasingly fashionable during this period.
Both of the girls photographed by the Dublin studios are, at my guess in their early teens. The outfit on the girl in the Lauder photograph is a better fit and not quite so over the top as the other’s. Both have their hair swept over their ears and tied at the back, however, unlike older women, their hair remains loose and flowing.
It was often remarked that the fashions of the day resembled furniture and in the example from Robinson this is definitely true. The girl’s dress has as many frills and flounces as the open tub armchair upon which she leans! The Lauder carte is by far the more superior in terms of its quality and composition.
Both studios had a long history in Dublin. Robinson & Sons of 65 Grafton Street were established in 1853 and claimed to be photographers to the British Army. Lauder Brothers were based at 22 Westmoreland street, opposite Carlisle Bridge (O’Connell Bridge).
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