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Posts Tagged ‘Fashion 1860s’

adacowper500

This little girl, Ada Josephine Cowper, was born in Dublin in 1865 and her family lived at 29 Fitzwilliam Place. Thanks to the online availability of church records I have been able to find out something about her life. Her marriage, at the age of twenty-seven, to Ernest Henry Knox resulted in a move to his family home Greenwoodpark, Crossmolina, County Mayo where he was a land agent. The house which was built in 1814 is now a ruin.

Ada had two children, Ada Eveleen and the exotically named Zinna Ethel! Zinna married into the Toler-Aylward family of Shankill Castle, Paulstown, County Kilkenny and it was there that Ada senior died at the age of 71 on the 6th of November 1936!

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The grandly named Royal Panopticon of Science & Art was run by James Simonton. It opened to much fanfare in 1862, five years’ before Ada’s photograph was taken. Simonton had been involved in several photographic partnerships prior to this solo endeavour. Before establishing himself at 70 Grafton Street (note the typo on the card above), he was based on Dublin’s other main thoroughfare, Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street).

Simonton spared no expense on the decoration and design of his new premises and an article in The Irish Builder of July 1862 elaborates upon the studio’s mahogany fittings, spacious staircase adorned with sculpture and ‘encaustic tile pavement and richly ornamented soffet.’ In addition to the photographic trade Simonton also displayed paintings, dioramas and scientific inventions. At the time of his marriage in 1859 to Frances Isabella Harricks he listed his occupation as ‘artist’ so it is no surprise that he was to host discussions on artistic matters.

Simonton’s business thrived during the 1860s and early 70s as he benefited from the carte-de-visite craze, however, he announced in 1875 that he was retiring from the ‘fancy goods’ trade and filed for bankruptcy in 1876. He attempted to open a public house in the 1880s but his application for a licence was not successful. Instead, he reverted to photography and entered into partnership with a man called Edwards with whom he ran a business at 28 Grafton Street until 1883.

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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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