Veterans of the Crimean War, 1856
Joseph Cundall and Robert Howlett
A lightly albumenised print showing three veterans of the Crimean War. The portrait is titled 'Royal Sappers and Miners' in the lower margin.
The three soldiers seen here are the Colour Sergeants J. Stanton, Kester Knight and W. Bruce, photographed when they were 'freshly returned from Turkey.'
Photographed by Joseph Cundall and Robert Howlett as part of a series of portraits undertaken at the behest of Queen Victoria.
According to the website of the Royal Collection Trust: ‘Throughout the war Queen Victoria had taken an active interest in the welfare of the troops and on their return from the Crimea she met a number of the veterans at Buckingham Palace, Chatham Military Hospital and Aldershot Garrison. Following these meetings she commissioned a series of photographs of the veterans from the photographers Joseph Cundall and Robert Howlett.’
Condition: please see scans. The print presents a couple of small imperfections in the area of the background but is otherwise in excellent condition. It is mounted on a large piece of firm white card; this is clean but has sustained a small tear low down on its left-hand edge and its lower right-corner is a little soft and worn.
Dimensions: the print measures 8.6” by 7.4” (21.8 cm by 18.9 cm); the mount measures 14.3” by 12” (36.3 cm by 30.5 cm).
Magdalen College Tower, 1856
Philip Henry Delamotte
An albumen print view of Magdalen College Tower at Oxford, showing the tower and garden of the college, with a young man lying on the grass, his head resting on his hand and his jauntily placed top hat shading his eyes.
A pencilled inscription recto in the lower margin in a period hand reads: ‘Magdalen Tower Oxford.’ A printed label verso gives the full title: ‘Magdalene [sic] College Tower, from the River Cherwell, Oxford.’ This exactly matches in every particular – including the spelling mistake – the title of a work listed in Roger Taylor’s Photographs Exhibited in Britain 1839-1865: A Compendium of Photographers and Their Works (National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives, Occasional Paper No 5, published 2002). It was exhibited by Philip Henry Delamotte at the London Photographic Society Exhibition of 1857, held at the beginning of that year at the Gallery of the Society of Water Colour Painters, 5 Pall Mall East, London. Delamotte exhibited 21 other works in the exhibition, the majority of them views of Oxford and its colleges. This one was numbered 289 in the exhibition catalogue.
The same photographs had been exhibited the previous month (December 1856) at the Art Manufacture Association. One reviewer claimed that there was some ‘unavoidable distortion’ of the buildings but that ‘[t]hese pictures are, however, remarkable for artistic composition, fine definition, and judicious balance of light and shade’ (Norfolk News, 13 December 1856).
According to an advertisement in The Times (6 March 1857), a set of 40 ‘Photographic Views of Oxford’ by P.H. Delamotte were available as a set in a portfolio for £8 8s or individually priced at 5s each.
The British photographer and illustrator Philip Henry Delamotte (1821-1889) was a Professor of Drawing at King’s College, London. He first gained attention as a photographer for his series of photographs of the dismantling of the Crystal Palace in 1852 and its subsequent reassembly at Sydenham, a project he completed in 1854.
Condition: the print presents a few small imperfections in the area of the sky and a loss of colour at its upper left-hand corner but is otherwise in excellent condition, with very good tonal range. It is mounted on a large sheet of stiff, firm card; this presents a few marks verso, caused by mounting on a secondary support, but is otherwise very clean.
Dimensions: the print measures 8.3” by 6.5” (21.1 cm by 16.4 cm); the mount measures 17.8” by 13.7” (45.3 cm by 35 cm).
The old chapel of Exeter College, Oxford, c. 1857
A stereoview showing the doorway to the original chapel of Exeter College in Oxford, photographed sometime prior to 1856 and later printed as a card-mounted stereoview
Constructed in 1623-24, the building had become structurally unsound by the beginning of the nineteenth century. Although concerns were first voiced as early as 1813, it wasn’t until the 1850s, after much arguing, that work began on replacing the edifice. George Gilbert Scott’s Neo-Gothic design was approved in July 1853 and the foundation stone was laid on 29 November 1856. The completed chapel was consecrated on 18 October 1859 by the then Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce.
Photographed by Philip Henry Delamotte, who was invited to Oxford by the publishers Spiers and Son to take a series of views eventually titled ‘Oxford in the Stereoscope.’ The price of the series of 25 views in a case was £2 2s or they were also available separately for 2s each.
On 17 January 1857 the Illustrated London News reported on the Fourth Exhibition of the Photographic Society. According to their reporter, ‘On one of the screens is a large frame containing some twenty or more stereoscopic views of the Colleges of Oxford, by Mr Delamotte, which are undoubtedly the prettiest things of the kind ever done.’ This quote was subsequently much used by Spiers in advertising for the series.
Condition: the prints are in excellent condition, with very good tonal range. The mount presents one small stain recto near the centre of its upper edge.
Dimensions: the mount measures 3.25” by 6.7” (8.2 cm by 17.1 cm).
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, 1857 (printed c. 1860)
A carte de visite portrait of the great civil engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859), seen here in work-soiled clothes beside the chains on the ramp at Millwall Shipyard down which the Leviathan, then the largest steamship in the world, would soon be launched.
Brunel had already built several large railroad stations and suspension bridges, as well as the steamships Great Western (1838) and Great Britain (1845). The social reformer Samuel Smiles described him as ‘the very Napoleon of engineers, thinking more of glory than of profit, and of victory than of dividends.’
Photographed by Robert Howlett although the back of the mount carries a backplate crediting the London Stereoscopic Company, who presumably acquired the negative when Howlett died the year after the photograph was taken.
Robert Howlett (1831-1858) was one of the first professional photographers in London. He distributed a darkroom tent that he had designed and was the author of the publication On the Various Methods of Printing Photographica Pictures upon Paper, with Suggestions for Their Preservation (1856). His premature death at the age of twenty-seven is attributed to the toxic gases to which he was exposed during his photographic experiments.
In more than a dozen photographs, taken in 1857, Howlett recorded the construction of the Leviathan, later renamed The Great Eastern. His general views recorded the ship’s skeleton, its components, and the men who worked on them but the photograph that is best remembered today is his iconic portrait of Brunel, the man who designed and built the ship.
Condition: the print is in excellent condition, with good tonal range; the mount presents some abrasions verso along its lower edge but is otherwise crisp and clean. A facsimile of the sitter’s signature is printed recto in the lower margin.
Dimensions: the mount measures 3.9” by 2.25” (10 cm by 5.7 cm).
Maximo and Bartola, c. 1862
Darbfontaine et Magis of Liège
Two carte de visite portraits of Maximo and Bartola, the microcephalic brother and sister who were billed as ‘The Aztec Children’ and exhibited by the great showman P.T. Barnum. According to their publicity, they were discovered in an ancient Aztec temple, perched on an altar like a pair of idols.
The Central American Indians Maximo and Bartola were small, childlike people with a mental age of about two years; they could each speak only a few words. Born to peasants in El Salvador, they were taken from their mother by a Spanish trader named Ramon Selva, who claimed he was taking them to the United States to be ‘cured of their imbecility.’ He sold them to a man named Morris, who became their owner and manager. Eventually, they joined the family of human oddities exhibited by Barnum. They proved enormously popular with the public, and even among archaeologists and scientists, including Professor Richard Owen. During the 1850s they appeared before the Boston Society of Natural History and were written up extensively in the ‘American Journal of the Medical Sciences.’ They were invited to the White House to meet President Fillmore and, in England, they were summoned to Buckingham Palace. During their subsequent tour, they appeared before most of the crowned heads of Europe.
As they reached adulthood, their billing was changed from ‘The Aztec Children’ to ‘The Aztec Lilliputians’ or ‘The Last of the Ancient Aztecs’ or sometimes just ‘The Aztecs.’ In a shameless publicity stunt, they were married in London on 7 January 1867, as ‘Señor Maximo Velasquez Nunez’ and ‘Señora Bartola Velasquez.’ This was an official marriage and was duly recorded at the local register office. The wedding was allowed on the spurious grounds that Aztec custom mandated the marriage of brothers and sisters to one another. Maximo wore evening dress, and Bartola wore a white satin wedding dress. A couple of months later they were appearing at the Hanover Square Rooms (entrance 5 shillings), on the same bill as the ‘Musical Albinos.’ One could also visit them at their own residence on Hanover Street (same entrance fee) between the hours of 1 and 3 o’clock.
However, their popularity was already declining. The scientific community’s interest was drawn to more legitimate discoveries while, in the minds of the general public, other ‘pinheads’ took the spotlight as the precious survivors of lost civilizations. Maximo and Bartola’s last known appearance, apparently, was in 1901, when they were mentioned in a Barnum and Bailey route book.
Photographed by Darbfontaine et Magis of Liège in Belgium.
Condition: each print presents one or two small imperfections but is otherwise in excellent condition. Both mounts have been trimmed slightly along the lower edge; hers also presents a small amount of wear at its upper left-hand corner. Both mounts are otherwise crisp and clean.
Dimensions: the dimensions of a standard carte de visite are approximately 4.1" by 2.5" (10.5 cm by 6.3 cm).
An aristocratic family, c. 1868
An oval albumen print portrait presumably showing a mother and father with their three daughters. The wide terrace on which they’re posing, the gardens and the stone balustrade in the background suggest a patrician family that enjoyed a privildged status.
Photographer and location unidentified.
Condition: the print presents a slight loss of tone towards some of its edge but overall has good tonal range. The album page on which it is mounted has been embellished by hand with two interlocking borders, one in red and the other in gold. The reverse of the album page presents some faint foxing.
Dimensions: the oval print measures 6.8” by 9.5” (17.9 cm by 24.1 cm) at its widest points; the album page on which it’s mounted measures 8.3” by 10.6” (21.2 cm by 26.8 cm).
John Jackson and Henry Robinson, 1887
Charles Thomas Mallin of Southport
A cabinet card portrait of John Jackson and Henry Robinson, the only survivors of the 'Eliza Fernley' lifeboat disaster. Their boat went down on 9 December 1886 coming to the aid of the German ship 'Mexico' during a severe storm off the coast of Southport. Of the crew of 16, only Jackson and Robinson survived. Another boat from nearby St Annes went down with all its crew. In all, 28 lifeboatmen lost their lives that night. It was the worst lifeboat disaster in British history.
‘So far as concerns the disaster to the Eliza Fernley, the Southport life-boat, […] its story is told by John Jackson, one of the survivors, who resides in West-street, Southport. He says that the boat was launched successfully and went nicely for a time. A very heavy sea was running, and their troubles soon commenced. […] They were beaten back several time, and shipped an immense quantity of water. It was pitch dark at the time, and the only indication of the distressed barque was the faint glimpse of a lamp which, as the boat got closer, they saw hung from the mizzen top. Jackson was able to discern that the vessel had lost her foremast and mainmast. They were at length within thirty yards of the vessel and could hear no shouting; indeed, the storm rose to such a pitch that it was with difficulty that they could hear their own voices. He was just about letting go the anchor to get the boat alongside, the vessel being then, he should say, twenty yards from the barque, when a tremendous sea caught the boat right amidships and she went over. They expected her to right herself, but she remained bottom upwards. Some of the crew managed at length to crawl out. He and Richard Robinson held firmly on to the rowlocks, and were buffeted about considerably. With some difficulty he got underneath the boat again and spoke, he thought, to Henry Robinson, Thomas Jackson, Timothy Rigby, and Peter Jackson. He called out, “I think she will never right; we have all to be drowned” and heard a voice, probably Henry Robinson’s, say “I think so, too.” […] Another heavy sea came, and Robinson disappeared with it and was never seen again. While underneath, Jackson called out to his brother but could get no answer. […] He drifted with the boat bottom upwards to the beach, and staggered home at three o’clock in the morning’ (Illustrated London News, 18 December 1886).
Photographed by Charles Thomas Mallin of Lord Street, Southport.
Condition: the print presents some small marks and imperfections; the mount is generally on the grubby side and has sustained a small amount of damage at its upper right-hand corner.
Dimensions: the dimensions of a standard cabinet card are 6.5” by 4.3” (16.5 cm by 10.8 cm).
Lillie Langtry, 1890
A Woodburytype portrait of the English actress and Lillie Langtry (1853-1929), who for a while became the semi-official mistress of the future Edward VII. When Edward once complained, ‘I’ve spent enough on you to buy a battleship,’ Lillie retorted, ‘And you’ve spent enough in me to float one!’
Born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton, the daughter of a rector, she married Edward Langtry in 1874. She first appeared professionally in London in 1881; her greatest success was as Rosalind in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Her first husband having died in 1897, she married Sir Hugh de Bathe in 1899. She died in Monaco in 1929 and was buried in the churchyard of St Savour’s in Jersey, the church where her father had been rector.
She was known as ‘the Jersey Lily’ from her birthplace and was considered to be one of the most beautiful women of her day. When she walked into restaurants, people would stand on chairs to get a better look at her.
Photographed by William Downey of London and Newcastle
Published as part of the first series of The Cabinet Portrait Gallery in 1890.
Condition: the print is in very fine condition with excellent tonal range; the page on which it’s mounted a very small amount of wear at its four corners but is otherwise crisp and clean.
Dimension: the print measures 5.5” by 3.7” (14 cm by 9.9 cm); the page measures 9.9” by 7.8” (25.2 cm by 19.9 cm).
Welsh women, c. 1880
An albumen print showing a group of Welsh women drinking tea outside a single storey building. Most of the women are wearing traditional Welsh costume, including the narrow-brimmed high-crowned Welsh hat.
The image may be understood as part of the commercial photographer’s fascination with ‘the exotic other,’ wherever it might be found. The women of the Welsh valleys and their traditional costumes were no less alien to an urban, middle-class audience than the inhabitants of the rain forests of Borneo. Ignoring the harsh realities of agricultural life, the photographer has concentrated instead on tea-drinking, a trope that occurred frequently in depictions of the region’s inhabitants, as if the Welsh somehow had an even greater proclivity for the beverage than their English neighbours.
Photographed by Hudson’s Series, identified in the print along the lower edge.
Condition: the print is in excellent condition, with very good tonal range. It is mounted on a section of cut-down album page, the reverse of which carries a view of a valley in North Wales.
Dimensions: the print measures 5.3” by 7.8” (13.3 cm by 19.7 cm); the mount measures 6.6” by 10.2” (16.9 cm by 26 cm).
Cyclists at Wolfeton House, c. 1895
An unmounted, glossy silver print showing a large number of cyclists, mostly women, arranged in front of an ivy-clad wall. The women’s clothes date the photograph to the mid to late 1890s. A pencilled inscription verso in a period hand reads: ‘Bicycle meet at Wolfeton House.’
Wolfeton House is a Tudor-Elizabethan manor house in Dorset.
Condition: the print has sustained diagonal creases at its upper left and lower right corners but is otherwise in good condition, with excellent tonal range.
Dimensions: the print measures 5.3 by 7.8” (13.4 cm by 19.7 cm).
A cacophony in Finland, 1893
An unmounted, glossy silver gelatin print showing as charming staged scene with an even more charming inscription, showing what purports to have been a cacophonous musical experience in Finland one June day in 1893.
Inked inscriptions recto in a period hand read 'A moving ditty / Finland, June 1893' and in the opposite corner 'and a still more moving singer.' Another longer inscription in the same hand on the reverse of the print reads:
'Will no one tell me what she sings!
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things
And battles long ago;
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of today?
Some natural sorrow, loss or pain
That has been and may be again!'
(Mons. Doriac and Uncle Alick sotto voce)
'Whate’er the theme, the maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending.'
Condition: please see scans. The print presents a few minor imperfections and very slightly bumped corners but is otherwise in excellent condition, with very good tonal range.
Dimensions: the print measures 4.7” by 6.6” (12 cm by 16.9cm).
H.L. Thomas with his Graphophone, c. 1897
Saunders Art Gallery of Woodward, Oklahoma
A gelatin silver print portrait of a young man with a Graphophone. This appears to be the Columbia Eagle model, which first appeared in 1897, when it cost $12 with a lid or $10 without. Its oak lid, painted with the company’s name, can be seen on the floor near the lower right-hand corner of the image, besides the box of wax cylinders.
The sitter and the photographer are both named verso in pencil in a modern hand. Presumably these are transcriptions by a collector or dealer of information that once appeared on an album page.
The young man is identified as ‘Mr H. L. Thomas.' This is probably Herbert Lee Thomas, who was born in Missouri on 16 November 1874. When the US census was taken in 1900, he was living in Woodward, Oklahoma, and working as a clerk in his father Jacob’s drugstore. He died, aged 43, in Arkansas on 30 September 1918. According to his obituary in a local paper: ‘A few weeks ago, Lee, as he was known by his friends, volunteered for industrial work and was sent to Little Rock to work in a plant having large government war contracts. Shortly after his arrival he contracted pneumonia and succumbed to the disease in a few days.’ His body was returned to Woodward and buried in Elmwood Cemetery. He was survived by his wife and only son, William McKinley Thomas.
Photographed by the Saunders Art Gallery of Woodward, Oklahoma.
Condition; the print presents a couple of very small abrasions near its upper edge but is otherwise in excellent condition with good tonal range. It has been neatly skimmed off a secondary support, presumably an album page.
Dimensions: the print measures 6.5” by 4.7” (16.4 cm by 11.9 cm).
Immigrant family with barrel organ, c. 1900
An unmounted albumen print showing an immigrant family of itinerant musicians with a barrel organ mounted on a cart drawn by a donkey. The man’s clothes suggest he might originally have hailed from Italy or perhaps somewhere in the Balkans. Note the photobomber at the window in the background.
The sign above the birdcage fixed to the side of the barrel organ reads in part ‘Charming Birds / For the small sum of one penny / from this box …’ Although the rest of the text is illegible, street musicians commonly trained caged canaries to 'tell fortunes' by drawing pre-prepared cards from a deck, as an entertainment for children of middle class families.
Condition: the print is in excellent condition, with very good tonal range.
Dimensions: the print measures 5.2” by 7.9” (13.3 cm by 20.2 cm).
Lepcha people of Sikkim, northeast India, c. 1869
An unmounted albumen print showing a group of Lepcha or Rong people of Sikkim in northeast India.
The Lepcha are the aboriginal inhabitants of present day Sikkim, a landlocked Indian state nestled in the Himalayas between Nepal and Bhutan. Many Lepcha are also found in western and southwestern Bhutan, eastern Nepal, and even the hills of West Bengal. They are also known as the Rong, Rongke or Rongpa. Their origins are obscure but since they speak a Tibeto-Burman language, some anthropologists suggest they originally migrated from Tibet.
Photographer unidentified but possibly taken around 1869 by an anonymous photographer for inclusion in the Frith Series of photographs of the region and its people. Alternatively, the photograph might have been taken by John Doyle of Darjeeling.
Condition: the print presents a few, very small imperfections but is otherwise in excellent condition, with very good tonal range.
Dimensions: the print measures 7.9” by 6.4” (20 cm by 16.3 cm).
Singhalese man with snake, c. 1880 (printed c. 1892)
Charles T. Scowen of Ceylon
An unmounted albumen print portrait of a Singhalese man holding a large snake.
Photographed by Charles T. Scowen.
Born in London’s Islington in 1852, Charles Thomas Scowen operated a prolific and successful studio in Ceylon [modern day Sri Lanka] from 1871 to 1890, with premises in both Kandy and Colombo. His work is noted for its strong sense of composition. He eventually became a tea planter but retired and returned to England around the turn of the century. At the time of the 1911 census he was living at Bures St Mary in Suffolk with his wife Ann Eliza Scowen. He died there, aged 96, on 24 November 1948 leaving an estate valued at £8855.
The print carries the blindstamp of The Colombo Apothecaries Company, a large general store established in 1883; it sold most commodities, including photographs. In the early 1890s it acquired the stock and negatives of Charles T. Scowen and Co.
Condition: the print presents a slight loss of tone towards its lower left-hand corner but is otherwise in very good condition. It has been neatly skimmed off a secondary support.
Dimensions: the print measures 9” by 8.5” (22.8 cm by 21.5 cm).
Prison haircuts in New Caledonia, c. 1880
An albumen print showing two prisoners receiving haircuts in the courtyard of a prison in New Caledonia, while more prisoners wait in line against the wall.
A survey of 1888 indicated that on 1 May that year there were 10,428 convicts on the island, including 2329 who had served their sentence and been freed. Those imprisoned included many Communards, convicted for their part in the Paris Commune of 1871, among them Henri de Rochefort and Louise Michel.
The reverse of the album page shows a similarly sized photograph showing a group of some twenty Kanaks in the forest within a vignette (scan available on request).
Photographer unidentified, but possibly by Allan Hughan (1834-1883), a ship’s captain who, after being shipwrecked, established a studio in Noumea in 1871.
Condition: the print is in excellent condition, with very good tonal range. The album page has warped very slightly in its upper and lower margins and presents a small amount of light foxing.
Dimensions: the print measures 7” by 8.1” (17.8 cm by 20.7 cm); it is mounted on an album page measuring 9.4” by 11.5” (23.9 cm by 29.2 cm).
Prisoners in New Caledonia, c. 1880
An albumen print showing five prisoners lined up under the gaze of a guard in the courtyard of a prison in New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific, then a French dependency, now an overseas territory of France. A pencilled inscription in the lower margin reads: ‘Interior Prison, New Caledonia.’
France took formal possession of New Caledonia in 1853. In 1864 it became a penal colony and from then until the end of transportation in 1897 about 22,000 criminals and political prisoners were sent to New Caledonia. The last prison closed in 1923.
The reverse of the album page carries a similarly sized photographed showing a much wider view of another compound, titled ‘Cavalry Barracks, Noumea, N.C.’ in the lower margin (scan available on request).
Photographer unidentified, but possibly by Allan Hughan (1834-1883), who established a studio in Noumea in 1871.
Condition: the print is in excellent condition, with very good tonal range. The album page has warped very slightly in its upper and lower margins and presents a small amount of light foxing.
Dimensions: the print measures 7” by 9” (17.9 cm by 23 cm); the album page on which it is mounted measures 9.4” by 11.4” (23.8 cm by 29.3 cm).
Matabele man, c. 1895
W. Rausch of Bulawayo
A silver gelatin print showing a smiling Matabele man posed with a cigar in one hand and a bow in the other in the photographer’s studio against a painted backdrop. A companion photograph exists, clearly taken on the same occasion, which shows the same man posed with a bottle and a glass The rocks, tree branches and large pottery vessel are presumably supposed to add some verisimilitude to the otherwise jarringly inauthentic scene.
The area known by Europeans in the nineteenth century as Matabeleland now comprises the western provinces of Zimbabwe, with its major city Bulwayo treated as a separate metropolitan province. Its people, then known by Europeans as the Matabele, were the Ndebele, were originally an offshoot of the Nguni people of Natal who migrated north in the 1820s. The British South Africa Company, a mercantile enterprise based in London, established itself in the region in 1890. The Matabele were defeated by the British in the First Matabele War (1893-94) and shortly afterwards the region was divided by the British South Africa Company into two provinces, Matabeleland in the west and Mashonaland (the traditional homeland of the Shona people) in the east. The Matabele Rebellion of 1896-97, also known as the Second Matabele War, failed completely and the Ndebele and Shona people remained subjects of the Rhodes administration. In 1923 Matabeleland became part of self-governing South Rhodesia and part of independent Zimbabwe in 1980.
Photographed by W. Rausch of Bulawayo.
By the middle of the 1890s, the photographer W. Rausch had established a studio in Bulawayo on Abercorn Street opposite the Bank of Africa, where, according to advertisements he placed in local newspapers, ‘All kinds of photographic work undertaken – groups photographed in town or country’ (Bulawayo Sketch, 21 November 1896). He also offered for sale ‘native’ portraits, photographic Christmas cards, and albums depicting the principal streets and buildings of Bulawayo.
Condition: the print is in excellent condition, with very good tonal range.
Dimensions: the print measures 8.1” by 5.9” (20.5 cm by 15 cm) and is mounted on a slightly larger piece of cut-down album page that has been neatly separated from its reverse side by a professional conservator.
Gurkha Rifles, 1894
An albumen print group portrait showing troops from one (or perhaps two) of the Gurka regiments of the British Army, the soldiers of which are largely drawn from the ethnic Gurkha communities of Nepal. The men have been photographed at the Gurkha Recruiting Depot (GRD) at Kunraghat near Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.
An inked inscription in the lower margin reads ‘Gurkha Depot, Gorakhpur, 1894.’
Condition: the print has good tonal range but presents a slight loss of tone at its lower edge, most noticeably towards its lower left-hand corner. The album page is firm and solid but has warped very slightly in its upper and lower margins, although the print is unaffected. The reverse of the album page carries a similarly sized photograph showing the village of Mürren in the Swiss Alps.
Dimensions: the print measures 7.2” by 11.1” (18.3 cm by 28.2 cm); the album page on which it’s mounted measures 10.3” by 13.7” (26.4 cm by 35.1 cm).
French army officer and horse skeleton, c. 1910
A matt silver print showing a French army officer sitting astride a horse's skeleton as if in the act of riding it.
Photographer and location unidentified but almost certainly French.
Condition: both the print and the mount are in excellent condition. The photograph is mounted on a piece of grey Bristol board which is clean, firm and solid.
Dimensions: the print measures 3.3” by 4.5” (8.5 cm by 11.4 cm); the mount measures 4.9" by 6.05" (12.6 cm by 15.4 cm).
Seven servants, c. 1890
A matt silver print showing a group of Black servants, presumably somewhere in North American. The long whip he is carrying indicates that the man in a top hat is coachman. The other two men appear to be outdoor workers of some kind, while the four women are all maids working inside the house.
Photographer and location unidentified.
Condition: apart from a very few, very small imperfections, the print is in excellent condition. The stock on which it’s mounted is clear, firm and crisp.
Dimension: including a narrow white border, the print measures 5” by 7” (12.7 cm by 17.7 cm).
Amateur dramatic sacrifice. c. 1900
A warm-toned, glossy silver print showing a scene staged by two young women, possibly in their own garden.
Photographer and location unidentified.
For further reading see Acting the Part: Photography as Theatre, ed. by Lori Pauli (2006).
Condition: the print, which is unmounted, is in excellent condition, with very good tonal range.
Dimension: the print measures 4.8” by 6.8” (12.1 cm by 17.3 cm).
Jardin du Luxembourg, 1902 (printed c. 1980)
A silver gelatin print showing a man sitting on a park bench in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris.
Photographed in 1902 by Eugène Atget, whose life’s work was the preservation in photographs of Paris’s vanishing architecture and street scenes. He died, aged 70, on 4 August 1927 in the city he had loved. Many of his glass negatives survived his death and are today housed in some of the world’s most prestigious museums. This print carries on its reverse the imprint of the Caisse Nationale des Monuments Historiques et des Sites. The negative number has been added in the appropriate place in pencil: MH 87195.
Condition: the print is in excellent condition with very good tonal range. Its paper support presents a very small amount of wear at its upper left-hand corner but is otherwise clean, crisp and firm.
Dimensions: the image measures 9.5” by 7” (24.2 cm by17.9 cm). It is printed on slightly glossy, slightly textured paper with a wide white border; this measures 112” by 9.4” (30.5 cm by 23.7 cm).
London Bridge, c. 1925
An unmounted matt silver print showing shipping in the Thames near London Bridge.
Photographed by Edward Hillsworth.
Edward Henry Robert Hillsworth was an amateur photographer and a founding member of the Basingstoke Camera Club. He favoured rural and coastal scenes in Essex, Kent and Sussex though he also made photographic forays as far afield as Cornwall. Most surviving examples of his work are in the Pictorialist style.
Born at Rathmines, a suburb on the southside of Dublin, at the time of the 1901 census he was a ‘Commercial Clerk & Provisions Broker’ living at Wanstead in Essex with his wife Amy (née Best). In 1911 he was a ‘Shorthand Writer & Typist’ at Woodford in Essex. When the Register of 1939 was compiled, he was living in Basingstoke and working as a ‘Clerk in Wholesale Tailoring.’ He died, aged 73, in Basingstoke in 1940.
Condition: the print presents a few small imperfections, including a tiny void at its lower right-hand edge, but is otherwise in excellent condition, with rich and satisfying tones. It is printed on thick, firm, slightly textured stock.
Dimensions: the print measures 8” by 9.8” (22.2 cm by 25 cm).
Nude, c. 1930
A vintage matt silver print showing an artistic study of a female nude.
Photographed by Bertram Park.
Bertram Charles Percival Park (1883-1872) was born in Bloomsbury and originally worked in the family firm, which made artists’ materials. In 1910 he was one of the founders of the London Salon of Photography though when the census was taken the following year he made no mention of photography, giving ‘Artist Colour Manufactory’ as his profession. In 1916 he married Yvonne Gregory, with whom he established a studio in Dover Street with funds provided by the Egyptologist Lord Carnarvon. Here he cultivated a clientele drawn from the upper echelons of society. His work also included portraits of British and European royalty, many of which were used on British and Commonwealth stamps and currency, and numerous publicity photographs for theatrical productions. He published a number of photographic books and also wrote on the cultivation of roses, a subject on which he was considered an expert. In later life he lived at Pinner in Middlesex. He died there on 25 December 1972 at the age of 89, leaving an estate valued at £105,853.
Condition: the print is in very fine condition, with good tonal range; the mount presents a very faint smudge near its upper right-hand corner but is otherwise also in excellent condition.
Dimensions: the print measures 9.6” by 7” (24.4 cm by 17.7 cm). It is tipped on to its original card mount; this measures 14.9” by 11.1’ (37.8 cm by 28.2 cm).
Roger Novaro, 1951
Studio Arax, Paris
A glossy silver gelatin bromide physique photograph showing a named bodybuilder of the 1950s.
A pencilled inscription verso reads: ‘Roger Novaro, 5eme plus bel athlète de Belgique, 1951’ [English: ‘Roger Novaro, Belgium’s 5th handsomest athlete, 1951’].
Another inscription in red ink adds ‘Gand’ [English: ‘Ghent’] after his name, and above his name ‘Plus bel athlète de Flandre’ [English: ‘the most beautiful athlete in Flanders’].
According to the website MuscleMemory, Roger Novaro entered various competitions between 1947 and 1955. In 1952 he was crowned Mr Belgium in the Tall category; the following year he came 2nd in the same category and in 1955 he was 3rd. The website also validates the inscription verso; he did indeed place 5th in 1951.
Photographed by Studio Arax of Paris.
According to Kenneth Krauss (Male Beauty: Postwar Masculinity in Theater, Film, and Physique Magazines, 2014): ‘Gregor Arax, whose studio in Paris had been producing high-quality male nudes since the 1930s, was a Greek who kept his studio at 31 Boulevard Raspail for more than three decades. [He was] primarily known for his meticulous studio pictures.’
Condition: apart from a few small marks in the area of the background, the print is in excellent condition with very good tonal range.
Dimensions: including a narrow white border, the print measures 5” by 6.9” (12.6 cm by 17.6 cm).
Costa Rican skull, c. 1970
A black and white silver gelatin print showing a skull from Costa Rica in Central America.
Photographed by Adrian Flowers of London.
Born in Portsmouth in 1926, Adrian Flowers was educated at Sherbourne School in Dorset. He attended the British School of Photography before establishing a studio in London’s Dover Street in 1950. He later moved to Tite Street in Chelsea during ‘the Swinging Sixties.’ He was known for his portraits of celebrities and for his advertising work. During his career his assistants included Terence Donovan and Brian Duffy. He died at his home in southwest France on 18 May 2016.
See The Guardian (30 May 2016) for his obituary by Amanda Hopkinson.
Condition: apart from a few very small imperfections, the print is in excellent condition with very good tonal range.
Dimensions: not including a (slightly uneven) white border, the print measures 9.3” by 7. by 7.5” (23.6 cm by 19 cm).
A vintage gelatin silver print showing a view of a street of nineteenth-century housing in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The photograph was taken in 1936; this print was issued circa 1960.
Manuscript inscriptions verso read : ‘Northumberland Newcastle’ in ink and ‘Wealth p. 242-3’ in two shades of pencil. A small paper label printed in red reads: ‘England, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.’
Photographed by Edwin Smith, identified by his wetstamp verso.
The photographer Edwin Smith (1912-1971) was noted for his sensitive evocation of place. The poet and architectural historian Sir John Betjeman hailed him as a ‘genius at photography’ due to his ability to make the ordinary rich and astonishing. An exhibition titled ‘Ordinary Beauty: The Photography of Edwin Smith’ was held at RIBA in London from September to December 2014.
RIBA holds an archive of 60,000 negatives by Smith. According to their website, he was ‘one of Britain’s finest photographers. […] The recurrent themes of his work – a concern for the fragility of the environment, an acute appreciation of the need to combat cultural standardization by safeguarding regional diversity, and a conviction that architecture should be rooted in time and place – are as pressing today as when Smith first framed them in his elegant compositions.’
According to a review of the RIBA exhibition by Owen Hopkins in Apollo: The International Art Magazine (30 September 2014, available online), ‘There is a haunting feel to many of the photographs; people are almost always absent from the scenes, but a human presence is seemingly inescapable. […] The sense, though, is that those people are not coming back, that even when the photographs were taken, these were scenes of a world that was already lost.’
For a far fuller assessment of Smith’s work see ‘Edwin Smith: A Genius Rediscovered’ by Robert Elwall on Alan Griffiths’ always informative website Luminous Lint.
Condition: the print presents a few faint imperfections in the area of the sky but is otherwise in excellent condition. It is has a very narrow white border at its upper edge and a wider one at its lower. It is unmounted.
Dimensions: the image measures 7.1” by 9.9” (18.2 cm by 25.2 cm).