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Posts Tagged ‘Tinted Photographs’

This pair of cartes de visite typify the type of inexpensive studio portrait produced in the 1860s and 70s. They are remarkably similar even though they were taken by two different studios on Westmoreland Street, Dublin.  The crude tinting blurred the individual features and produces a mask-like appearance. Only the painted backdrop and furniture styles differentiate the studios from each other. 

Despite the claims of excellence made by both studios, they display a standardisation of pose that the format’s detractors frequently pointed out. The craze for these inexpensive portraits reached its peak on the 1860s and this is reflected by the sheer number of studios on three of the main streets of the capital: Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street); Westmoreland Street and Grafton Street. This strip became known as ‘The photographic mile’ and at one time boasted over 60 studios.

The man with the tinted cheeks was taken by Forster’s who were  according to an 1868 advertisement situated on the ‘drawing room’ floor of  30 Westmoreland Street.  Access was through the front door of the New Medical Hall. Forster  entered into several partnerships – in March 1862 he was in business with Mr. A.J. Scott, however, by February 16th, 1864 he was working alongside T.F. Haskoll. This partnership was in turn dissolved by 1864 when Haskoll set up on his studio own at 118 Grafton Street.

The firm of Lauder appears to have been more stable venture as it continued in business into the 20th century. Another branch of the family started the famous and highly successful Lafayette studio. The following advertisement by Lauder from 1878 gives an indication of the claims made by the studios “Lauder have made most important alterations and improvements in their principal galleries, by means of which photographs are now produced in half the usual time, thereby rendering them more natural, pleasing and successful, and have spared no expense in providing the best lenses and apparatus and a great variety of new and beautiful scenery accessories.”

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This hand-tinted photograph is most likely from the 1920s. The colouring is really well executed and was undertaken by the Octova Studios, 52 South King Street, Dublin. The studio specialised in theatrical and artistic portraits and was located beside the Gaiety Theatre in a building which now houses a joke shop called Funny Place!  

Mr. K. Raphael Wall was the proprietor and he offered paintings, plaster casts and photographic portraits from 1/- to £100. A notice placed in The Irish Times on Saturday 6th December 1924 stated that Mr. Wall was to deliver a lecture on portrait painting to art students on the following Monday. One wonders if the sitter was a young art student or an actress from the nearby theatre?

The  studio was still in business in 1932 but isn’t mentioned in any of the city newspapers again until 1936 when a Miss Kathleen Wall (late of Octova Galleries) opened the Raphael Gallery around the corner on Grafton Street.

There are some excellent examples of hand coloured photographs on John Foster’s blog Accidental Mysteries and the collection of found and vernacular photographs which he shares with Teenuh Foster is equally interesting. It is featured on their site which also contains links to other vernacular and found photograph sites.

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