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Posts Tagged ‘Irish Studio Photography’

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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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I bought this photograph because I love images of girls wearing glasses. Her cloche hat, tapestry/brocade coat and corsage epitomise 1920s cool. The photograph was taken in The Central Studio, 13 North Earl Street, Dublin. Little did I know, that the women who ran the studio were just as fascinating as the image.

Harriette E. Lavery is listed in the Thom’s directory as the studio’s occupant from 1918 until 1946. I located her family on the 1901 census where she was living in Belfast with her father, a photographer, thus demonstrating a link to the trade. However, my explorations became more interesting when I found a link to a site showing Harriette’s memorial card stating that she died in 1923 from anthrax poisoning! It appears that the forty-six year old widow contracted her illness during her imprisonment for Civil War Republican activities. Harriette was jailed alongside her daughter, Maynie (1901-1976), in Kilmainham Gaol and the North Dublin Union. Maynie was an active member of Cumann na mBan and her future husband, Ned Reid was imprisoned in Marlborough Prison during the same period. (For further details see Sinéad McCoole’s No Ordinary Women: Irish Female Activists in the Revolutionary Years 1900-1923, Dublin: The O’Brien Press, 2003)

Maynie continued the business after her mother’s death but no change was made to the Thom’s listing. Over the twenty-seven years’ that the photographic studio was based at this address its neighbours included Keenan’s café, the Russell hairdressing saloon and the Maypole Dairy. At one stage, the Lavery family also ran a café at No.13 which they called ‘Dalriada.’ This was also the name of a hotel owned by Harriette’s maternal family at the seaside village of Howth, County Dublin.

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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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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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This portrait shows Elsie Thompson Harrison of Brighton Square, Dublin in her nursing uniform and it was most likely taken during World War One. Her family are listed on the 1911 census as owning a hardware business and as being part of the Plymouth Brethern – an evangelical movement established in Dublin in the 1820s. Her brother had the unusual name of Gordon Trizzant Harrison and I was able to discover that her sister studied at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art. I have located her on the online registers for the college: an excellent resource which is available through the website of the National College of Art and Design.

The portrait was taken by a firm called Lloyd’s of Dublin. Directories show that they were based at 30 Grafton Street from ca. 1910 until 1939. It was run firstly by E. Henry Lloyd and then by H. Lawrence Lloyd. The format is sized between a carte-de-visite and a cabinet card and has beveled gilt edges. The printing process is quite like those which were popular with Fine Art photographers for their grainy and painterly effects. Whatever the process used by Lloyd, its warm hues and the soft focus add to the subject matter and lend a sombre atmosphere to the portrait.

In contrast Lloyd also traded under the name of Mr Stickyback! See here for an overview of the sticky back photographic craze of the 1910s.

It is not clear whether or not Elsie was a fully trained nurse. Guilds and voluntary groups met throughout the country to prepare packs for soldiers or to take basic First Aid lessons, however, her decision to go to a studio in her uniform may indicate that nursing represented paid employment for her. The census shows that her sister had to earn her living as she is listed as an ‘Art Teacher and Governess.’

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Dublin City Libraries have chosen James Joyce’s Dubliners to be the featured title in their initiative One City, One Book. I’ve mentioned the book before in earlier posts, however, the project brought to mind several images from my collection which remind me of Joyce’s references to photography within the short stories. I love Joyce’s descriptions of interiors, particularly in The Dead and the following photographs feature similar subjects and conjure up the same atmosphere as occurs in the stories.

From The Dead:  “Her photograph stood before the pierglass. She held an open book on her knees and was pointing out something in it to Constantine who, dressed in a man-o-war suit, lay at her feet.”

The man-o-war suit mentioned in the story was a version of the then popular sailor suits worn by little boys during the mid to late nineteenth-century. The trousers in this variety were long legged and were often worn with a wide-brimmed straw hat like the example below from the Werner studio of Grafton Street. Joyce himself was photographed as a young boy wearing a sailor suit.

From A Little Cloud: “It was Annie’s photograph. Little Chandler looked at it, pausing at the thin tight lips. She wore the pale blue summer blouse which he had brought her home as a present one Saturday … He looked coldly into the eyes of the photograph and they answered coldly. Certainly they were pretty and the face itself was pretty. But he found something mean in it. Why was it so unconscious and ladylike? The composure of the eyes irritated him. They repelled him and defied him: there was no passion in them, no rapture.”

I think the expression of the woman above matches that described by Joyce in the story ‘The Little Cloud’. Blouse and skirt combinations were very popular during the 1890s and 1900s – the period during which Joyce wrote Dubliners and when the story is set.
From Eveline: “And yet during all those years she had never found out the name of the priest whose yellowing photograph hung on the wall above the broken harmonium beside the coloured print of the promises made to Blessed Mary May Alacoque. He had been a school friend of her father. Whenever he showed the photograph to a visitor her father used to pass it with a casual word:
‘He is in Melbourne now.’ ”

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This little girl was the height of fashion for the 1900s. All the mainstays from the decade are here: a sailor style tunic; soft leather ankle strap shoes; dark tights and a large floppy wide-brimmed hat. I particularly like the pleated skirt and the black cuffs and collar. The ostrich plume adds a finishing touch to her hat.

The use of the name ‘Berlin’ was not unusual. Many photographers alluded to being either French or German in attempt to give their studio some continental European cachet.  Thirty years earlier, a firm called Stevens ran a photographic studio from the same location in Patrick Street (see previous post on a carte-de-visite from the 1860s).  The larger cabinet card format which is used here allowed for more detail and a better view of the sitter’s features and expression. The wrought iron railings in the background; terrazzo flooring and fake ‘boulder’ make a very strong composition.

On a related topic, I’ll be talking about some of the fashion highlights of the Jacolette collection at the Gallery of Photography, Meeting House Square, this Wednesday, 11th April at 7 o’clock. Also on at the gallery is an exhibition of fashion photography organised in conjunction with the excellent Thread magazine.

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