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Posts Tagged ‘Children’s hairstyles’

CDV-M-Allen&Co-500

There is so much to like in this hand coloured carte-de-visite from the Dublin studio of M. Allen of 12 Westland Row. In addition to the sea themed backdrop, with its sailing boat on the horizon, the papier mâché rock creates a virtual beach for the lavishly dressed young boy. His two-piece suit of light material includes a jacket with long-sleeves gathered into cuffs. These are trimmed with a band of colour as are the side seams and edges of his shorts. A matching ribbon adorns his straw hat. Candy stripped cotton stockings complement his flat buckled slippers. His elaborate hairstyle of long ringlets with a short fringe is very similar to another little boy’s taken by the same studio in May 1873.

The hand tinting is very well executed and is probably the work of Miss Margaret Allen (1832-1914), the daughter of the studio owner, Mark Allen. Her family had a long association with the Dublin art world and sold art supplies and lithographs. She was definitely involved in the photographic side of her father’s business as an advertisement from 1871 states that “Miss Allen pays particular attention to the photographing of babies and young children.” She was an honorary member of the Royal Hibernian Academy and a notice in The Irish Times of the 21st October 1861 states that she ran classes in ‘Drawing and Painting from Life.’ It informed the people of Dublin that “Miss Allen begs to announce that her academy is open on Tuesday and Friday from nine till five o’clock. A living model poses from ten till three.” Miss Allen’s father died in 1879 and she spent her final years in various boarding houses in Dublin listing her income as “an allowance from a friend.”

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These two groups of sisters are beautifully presented with matching dresses and hairstyles. The girls above were photographed by Robert Lyttle of  Belfast, and have fabulous banana curls tied with large ribbons. Their light coloured linen or cotton dresses are worn with dark tights and lace-up boots or shoes. I particularly like the detailed smocking and the series of pin tucks at the bottom of their skirts. Interestingly, they all wore necklaces and bracelets.

The second group were photographed at William McCrae’s Studio, Berkeley Road, Phibsborough, Dublin. They too wear matching white outfits with the dark tights and shoes so typical of the era. Their dresses have nautical details which are similar to a 1905 girl’s sailor suit held in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

Unfortunately, I have no idea who the girls in either photographs were, however, based on the skirt lengths and the studio addresses it is probable that the photographs were taken in the first decade of the twentieth century.

Census records show that in 1911, Belfast-born Robert Lyttle was living at 23 Kingsmere Avenue with his wife Eleanor and three children (Gwen, Norman and Cecil). He doesn’t feature as a photographer in the 1901 census. Curiously, the verso of the photograph lists him as the Official Photographer of the Football Association of Ireland!

William McCrae was of Scottish origin and in 1911 lived over his Berkeley Street studio with his six surviving children. By this time, his Irish-born wife, Rebecca, had died. Since their marriage in 1887, she had given birth to at least nine children! The family are listed as members of the United Free Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian group who were in existence from 1900.

By 1916, McCrae had also opened a studio at the fashionable location of Grafton Street. The business was continued by his sons, one of whom may have been the photographer commissioned to record the aftermath of the North Strand bombings in 1941. 

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