Almost all of the Daguerreotypes we have found are American. This is a wonderful colorized dag from England. It shows a father with his twoo teenage sons. They are posed more informally than is common in many dags, testifying to the skill of the Daguerreotypist. One of the boys is a cricket enthusiast. This is a very early image of a boy with a cricket bat and ball. We know this portrait was taken in the 1850s, but we are not sure just when. The portait was probably taken in the mid-1850s. We say this because of the quality of the dag, the mention of the Crystal Palace, and the fact that we do not see any hint of 1860s styling. The dag was taken by an establish London Daguerreotypist. This probably means the family resided in London, but we cannot be sure about that. The boys wear Eton suits with early bow ties which appear to be tied from stocks. They have contrasting vests, but their collars do not stand up as prominately as the Eton collars we note in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. The boys almost certainly attended a public schoo, but we are not sure it was Eton. This portrait was done as a pair for stereoscopic viewing. This was not very common because of the cost.
The dag shows an unidentified father with his twoo teenage sons. The father from his dress looks to affluent, but we have no information sbout him.
The boys almost certainly are brothers. They look to be younger teenagers, we would say about 12-14 years of age.
This stereo daguerreotype features a seated father holding an open book with his sons standing for a family portrait. One of the sons grips a ball in one hand and a cricket bat in the other. The relaxed posing is atypical of the time period. The subjects in dag portraits are usually posed more informally than is common in most dags. The relaxed pose is testimony to R. Williams' mastery of the daguerreotype format. This stereo daguerreotype is actually composed of two images for steroscopic viewing.
A daguerreotype is a positive and unique photograph on a silvered copper plate protected by glass. This plate made rather expensive. There are no negatives in the process of making daguerreotypes and thus duplicate images can not be easily printed. They could be copied, but that was expensive and the results uneven. Daguerreotypes are generally thought of as the first tangible form of photography and were invented in 1839 by Frenchman Louis Daguerre. The Daguerreian era is considered to be 1840-1860 with few made after that.
Daguerreotypes were black and white images. Some were beautifully colorized. This stereo daguerreotype was carefully hand-colored at the time by the artist or someone in his employ. As it is not a color photograph, the accuracy of the color reproduction varied. Notice that gold gilt has been applied to one boy's watch chain. Gold gilt was often used on jewelry even when the rest of the dag was not colorized much beyond cheek blush.
One of the boys is a cricket enthusiast. This is a very early image of a boy with a cricket bat and ball. Thiw is not the earliest image of a cricket bat and ball, but it certainly is an early one. Note the ball is colorized dark red. I'm not sure how accurate this was. Modern cricket balls are bright red. We have no way of knowing who decided to include the cricket bat and ball, but suspect it is a studio prop.
We know this portrait was taken in the 1850s, but we are not sure just when. The portait was probably taken in the mid-1850s. We say this because of the quality of the dag, the mention of the Crystal Palace, and the fact that we do not see any hint of 1860s styling. Because of the presence of the bat and ball at such an early date it is historically important. Cricket dates back seceral centuries. It was a well-established sport in the 18th century. There are many accounts of village cricket in the 18th century. Cricket at public schools is also well documented in the 19th century.
As the photographic studios was in London, this probably means the family resided in London, but we cannot be sure about that. It is possible that they were visitors having their portrait taken in London. But it seems more likely that they were actually from London.
The boys wear Eton suits with early bow ties which appear to be tied from stocks. They have contrasting vests, but their collars do not stand up as prominately as the Eton collars we note in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Notice that there is considerable similarity in the father's clothing and that of the boys. The najor difference looks to be the neckwear and length of the jacket. The clothing of all three is notable for the almost complee lack of color. We suspect that this is an accurate depiction. Colorized images may not have always depicted color acurately, but we suspect that if the three here had some colorful articles of clothing, that there would be some depiction of that. Black and grey was veru common for men and boys ikn the Victorian era. One of the privliges for senior boys at Eton was to be able to wear brightly colored vests. Notice that all three have suits in which the jacket did not mach the trousers.
The boys almost certainly attended a public school. We are not sure just what school. It could have been Eton, but there were many other schools where the boys wore similar outfits. The boy's clothing looks like a school uniform yo us. We believe that the conventiins of the day were that the bou=ys quite commonly wore their school uniforms even when not at school..
Both boys have relatively short hair, but grown down to their ears. Their hair is slicked back and severely parted. Note that both boys have right parts. Left parts were more common. Their father has longer hair. I don't think this was an age convention at the time, although our knowledge of 1850s hair styles is limited. We note another unidentified English boy at about the same time who has hair done more like the father here. He was a little younger than the boys here.
Prince Albert was the main backer of the 1851 Great Exhibition. This was the first "world's fair", with exhibits from most of the world's nations. The exhibition was held in Hyde Park, and the showpiece was the Crystal Palace, a prefabricated steel and glass structure like a gigantic greenhouse, which housed the exhibits. The Great Exhibition proved to be theb turning point in Albert's official responsibilities and public image. Before the Exhibition he was seen as primarily the Queen's husband. After the Exhibition is talents and abilities were increasingly seen and Giovernment ministers increasingly sought his council. The Great Exhibition was not exactly a novel effort--te French had been holding tem for years, but it was novel for Britain. In may ways it served as the protype for future international expositions and world fairs. It was Albert who conceived of it and promoted it.
The dag was taken by a well-establish London Daguerreotypist. Thomas Richard Wiliams (1825-71) worked as an assistant to Philip Henry Delamotte on photographing the construction of the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1854. The photographic study they produced 'Photographic Views of the Progress of the Crystal Palace, Sydenham' commenced in 1852 is considered the first photographic documentation of the construction of a building. T. R. Williams' photograph entitled 'Queen Victoria Presiding at the Reopening of the Reconstructed Crystal Palace at Sydenham, 1854' is cited as the first indoor photograph of a crowd. It is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of New York. T. R. Williams went on to open his own Regent Street, London studio where the daguerreotype being offered here was taken. His work is also in the collections of The Getty Museum as well as many other international museums.
This portrait was done as a pair for stereoscopic viewing. Victorians greatly appreciated stereo photograohy. It was more popular for landscapes, buildings, and genre scenes, but we see portraits as well. Stereo photography required two images taken at exavtly the same time from a slightly different perspective. Each of the two images is a slight variant of the other to create a three-dimensional portrait. T here is a device called a stereoviewer or stereoscopic viewer which can be utitlized to enhance viewing pleasure. This was a very common device in Victorian parlors. Stereo dags were not very common because of the cost. This mean that during the 1850s they were mostly found in affluent homes. With the development of negative-based photography, stero image cards become much more common in the 1860s. We see large numbers beginning in the early 1860s.
An attached label read "A select Collection of Photographic Slides for the Stereoscope, including a series of Views taken in and about the Crystal Palace,Sydenham, with descriptive letter press." Additional text read. "Mr. T. R. Williams Photographic Artist 236 Regent Street Opposite Hanover Street London." In small print, "Paintings, Water Colour & Crayon, Drawings, Sculptures and all articles of Vertu carefully copied. Portraits Taken Daily. Baxter SO. 1. Arthur St. Grays Inn Road. Small daguerreotypes accurately copied on an enlarged scale, and any number of Impressions supplied."
May, Brian. "Scenes in Our Village," Stereo World. This is an excellent article pertaining to Dagerreotypist T. R. Williams. It is availavle on-line.
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