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Posts Tagged ‘Irish Photography’

 

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This small snapshot was taken in 1957 and it is captioned on the back as a ‘Dublin liquor store.’ It shows numbers 52 and 53 Dame Street and the side street called Temple Lane South. Although it includes two Georgian buildings, the image is decidedly modern in its composition and atmosphere. Two cars can be seen moving out of the shot, three hat-wearing men are ambling down the street, one with a parcel under his arm. A female cyclist wearing a fashionably tight skirt and knitted sweater has stopped by the path. Bicycles are lined up against the side wall of number 53 on Temple Lane South.

Perhaps the modern feel is heightened by the fact that the front of No. 53 (the headquarters of the wine and spirit distributor, D.E. Williams) was designed by the modernist architecture Michael Scott. When first opened, it was described by The Irish Times on the 16th of August 1941 as being ‘carried out in teak’ and as ‘a notable example of simplicity and elegance in design.’ By 1957 the exterior is pretty much unchanged excepting for the addition of an incongruous curved wooden flower box over the door. You can click on the above image to see a larger version of the snapshot.

The window display bears the slogan ‘Give Every Man his Dew.’ This refers to the whiskey Tullamore Dew which takes its name from the initials of the distributor D.E. Williams. An article, dating from 1954, on the history of the company can be found here. Now an Italian restaurant called Nico’s (one of the oldest Italian restaurants in the city) which first opened in 1963. It is mentioned in this piece from the Dublin blog ‘Come Here to Me’ that also includes a really nice photograph of the building taken in recent years. This review also references the restaurant’s history.

The next building, No. 52, was occupied by several legal firms. Street directories also give home addresses for the ‘legal eagles’ that were mainly in affluent parts of South county Dublin and Wicklow: John K. Lloyd-Blood, commissioner for oaths, home address Glencot House, Kilmacnogue, County Wickow; Gwynne Stirling, residence Marino Lodge, Killiney; Raymond French, solicitor, Knocksinna House, Stillorgan Road.

Number 52 is now a hair and beauty salon called Preen. It has not been altered too much since this photograph was taken. It now has two doors instead of one, however, the latticed windows have been retained on the upper storey. The ground floor and basement recently sold for 661,000 Euros to an overseas investor.

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As stated above the print is small (3 inches x 4 inches). A stamp on the back includes the Minox logo stating that it is an original Minox print with the date of June 11-1957. Minox cameras were produced in Latvia and after the Second World War in West Germany. They were a desirable luxury item that was widely advertised in Europe and America. The firm was also known for a particular sub-miniature camera favoured by spies. The snapshot is printed on Leonar paper, one of the most popular papers in post-war Europe. You can read a history of the firm with particular reference to their Leigrano paper here.

The use of the phrase ‘liquor store’ suggests that this photograph was taken by an American. One who could afford to travel and purchase a Minox camera. It is amazing the tangents that a single snapshot can take you on: from a Michael Scott designed shop-front to whiskey labels and spy cameras.

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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.

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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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This photograph shows the Governor’s House at Arbour Hill Prison, Dublin. It is described by Christine Casey as ‘a three bay-block with a central axial corridor, transverse stair and simple plaster ornament,’ and was built between 1845-1848.

It was designed by Richard Cleverton Cuming, Assistant Surveyor, Royal Engineers, Ordnance Civil Branch, Dublin Castle. A watercolour of the house by Herbert Crompton Herries ca. 1870, showing the gardens and the Wellington Monument in the distance, was recently auctioned in Dublin.

This photograph shows the governor, his family and their uniformed staff standing outside the ivy-covered building. I reckon that the photograph was taken between 1890 and 1910. One of the governors during this period was George Alfred Penrhys Evans who is listed in the 1901 census. The household included the governor, his wife Cecelia Cameka Evans, their one-year-old daughter Audrey Fortesine and four female servants.

The firm of Guthrie took this photograph and their studio was located at nearby Parkgate Street. The Guthrie brothers were born in China and South Africa, however, their mother hailed from County Fermanagh. They describe themselves on the 1911 census as ‘Photographic Artists’ and I have written about their work in a previous post which you can read here.

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The above photograph was sold along with the image of Governor’s House. Though I can’t be sure that it is the interior of the Arbour Hill house, its atmospheric clutter, decorated with a large number of prints and photographic portraits, is similar to a bedroom of the period.

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Phoenix-Park-Racing

The Phoenix Park’s association with motorsport started as early as 1903. The Gordon Bennett Cup Race which took place in Ireland in that year is cited as the background for James Joyce’s short story After the Race. Joyce used motor racing to lampoon the aspirations of Dublin’s social climbing nouveau riche. It was one of fifteen stories that appeared in Dubliners and this month marks the 100th anniversary of its publication. A reimagining and rewriting of these stories, Dubliners 100, will be launched today.

This lady was photographed in the Phoenix Park sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Due to petrol rationing racing was suspended during the Second World War and did not re-commence until the late 1940s. On the subject of rationing, I was delighted to have my article ‘Coupons, Clothing and Class: The Rationing of Dress in Ireland, 1942-1948’ published in the latest issue of Costume.

The fashions worn by this women indicate that the photo was taken towards the end of the 1940s or in the early 1950s. Her loose fitting, midi length shift dress and matching jacket were typical of the post-war period. Her stylish outfit reflects the comparative wealth of those involved in motor sport and mirrors the glamour and allure alluded to by Joyce in After the Race.

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This woman sports one of the most sought after garments of the 1860s. Her spectacular paisley patterned shawl is as voluminous as the crinolined silk skirt it partially covers. A fine shawl such as this was definitely a status symbol!

Numerous outlets throughout Dublin sold shawls including Switzer, Ferguson & Co. at 91-93 Grafton Street. In July 1860, their extensive range included the following: “square and long tissue Grenadines, printed Llama and long and square French and Paisley.”

Also on Grafton Street, the Shawl Warehouse at number 100 was run by James Forest and Sons. On Wednesday, May 31st, 1865, they advertised that they were now “showing their stock of French, Paisley, Norwich and every description of fashionable shawl.”

Shawls were often offered as prizes in raffles such as that run by the Phibsborough Art Union in July 1866 when Mrs Forman won a Paisley shawl in the raffle to benefit St. Peter’s Church, Phibsborough, Dublin.

Shawls were itemised in executors sales and indeed sometimes featured in court cases. The ‘Police Intelligence’ section of The Irish Times for August 2nd, 1870, notes that “Catherine Duffy was brought up in custody on remand, charged by Catherine Butterly with stealing a Paisley shawl from a room in a house at 38 City Quay. Sent to trial for City Sessions.”

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Not all shawls were of the equal quality and the complicated history of the Paisley pattern reveals much about trade between India and Europe. The teardrop shaped pattern has it origins in Iran and the Kashmir region of India. By the nineteenth-century shawls were being made in the Scottish town of Paisley.

Cheaper copies were printed not woven and indeed the finest European shawls did not have as many threads as those imported from India. The woman in this carte-de-visite also wears some high-end accessories such as her parasol and leather goods. Her low-browed spoon bonnet is decorated with artificial flowers and ties in a large bow. This was also the height of fashion for the 1860s!

The photographer on this occasion was Thomas North also based on Grafton Street. The logo he used on his 1860s cards can be viewed here. The firm was at 71 Grafton Street from 1861 until at least 1900.

In the 1901 census, Thomas North is listed a living at 101 Rathmines Road. He was by then 73 years’ of age. Born in Hampshire, England, his second wife Mary Jane was 25 years’ his junior. Amongst those living in the household were two of his sons: the exotically name Theophilus Vese and Thomas Ernest whose occupation was listed as a ‘photographic artist.’ By the 1911 census, Thomas is no longer listed as a photographer and we can assume that the business did not last long after his father’s death.

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Even though people spend many of their waking hours at work, the office is seldom photographed or shown as clearly as it is in this series of images taken in August 1948. These photographs are of a Dublin clothing wholesalers called Robert P. Shaw and Sons, which was located at 46 South William Street for two years’ between 1948 and 1950. The location was the centre of the ‘rag trade’ in Ireland and an area which up until recently housed many wholesalers and workshops.

The Georgian building was partitioned into many units and street directories show that in 1949 there were at least five other businesses and two residential units at number 46. These included Cunningham & Co., manufacturers, importers and wholesale warehousemen and Farrell & Co., typewriting and duplicating services. I was able to deduce the location by enlarging the address on an envelope resting beside the classic Underwood typewriter. A little card on the noticeboard refers to the tardy closing of the front door and the fact that the staff of Cunningham & Co. vacate the building promptly at 6 o’clock every evening!

The secretary’s office is of particular interest and shows a calendar opened to the weekend of the 21st and 22nd of August. I love her sweater and waved hair which were very typical of the period. The photographs have a formal quality which is rather like the set of a play. There are many details to take in, for example, the beautifully designed advertisements for ranges such as Luxan, Francella and Daphne. The sales room has some chairs which were upholstered in a contemporary fabric and the circular table is complete with an ashtray for the waiting salesmen. Notes on the the photographs refer to the interior features in a manner indicating that the offices had recently undergone a renovation, for example, one caption highlights the ‘effective use of cork tiles.’ By 1951, however, Robert P. Shaw and Sons were gone from the location and the unit was filled by another clothing agent. Perhaps, their line in Shamrock and Britannia unshrinkable all wool underwear was no longer popular!

The photographs were commissioned from Keogh Brothers, a firm who are better known for their images of the aftermath of the 1916 Rising and for several commemorative albums which they created during that period. There is an excellent StoryMap feature on South William Street’s connection with the garment industry and Ruth Griffin’s research into the history of the district provides a great picture of this most interesting street.

Overall, this series of photographs gives us an atmospheric glimpse of mid-twentieth century working life.

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This bizarre object is evidence of heavy-handed colouring carried out to such an extent that the original photograph is almost totally obscured. The cartouche on the back of the carte-de-visite reads ‘Truth and Light’ – a popular motto for photographers – although in this case the ‘truthfulness’ of the image may have been somewhat lost.

The upholstered leather chair is just about visible in the background. The child’s hair resembles a mohican style with the sides brushed or gelled back and the curls piled up on top. His/Her face has been deliberately scored or scratched which is a pity, however, the expression can still be made out.

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The photograph was taken by Edmund G. Ganly (1843-1930), who announced the opening of his business in The Irish Times on the 3rd of October 1868 as follows:

“Important photographic notice – Mr. Edmund G. Ganly. Late principal photographer to Mr. J. Simonton, 70 Grafton Street, Begs respectfully to announce to the nobility, gentry and the inhabitants of Dublin and its vicinity, that he has opened the studio, 43 Grafton Street. N.B. 10 doors from Stephen’s Green. ”

The Simonton studio mentioned above features in some of my earlier blog posts and was also known as The Royal Panopticon of Science and Art. By 1888 Ganly had moved to London and was to continue in the photographic trade for many years.

On another note, I am delighted to be speaking at a conference in Dublin next week: ‘Object Matters: the material and visual culture of the Easter Rising’ is taking place at the Civic Offices next Friday and Saturday, 26th and 27th of April. The full programme is available here.

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