Posts Tagged ‘Edwardian children’


My guess is that this little girl is dressed as Schmutzli, the Swiss companion to St. Nicholas who carries a broom of sticks with which to hit misbehaving children! It was taken around 1905 and she is one of the three Ruthven-Smith sisters whose maternal grandfather owned Dromquinna House, Kenmare, County Kerry. Doreen (1895-1988); Gwendaline Laura (1898-1989) and Theophila (1902-1982) divided their time between Switzerland, Ireland and their father, Frederic Ruthven-Smith’s home Bramcote Hall, Nottingham. He was a keen photographer and it is likely that he took the images in the album I purchased online.

Sir John Colomb their grandfather owned 4,500 acres and was High Sheriff of Kerry and a member of the Congested Districts Board. His home was designed by the prolific architect James Franklin Fuller and is now a luxury hotel.

The album from which this photograph originates includes some amazing photographs of the estate as well as beautiful portraits of the three sisters. I hope to do more research into it and post about it in 2013! 

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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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