*** Bertie Chapman

boy dresses
Figure 1.--This charming portrait shows pigtails being worn by a little English boy waering pigtails. The portrait was dated 1898. Notice the colored velvet hair boy on his shoulder, placed there by his mother so it would show in the photograph. Bertie was nearly 3 years old. Photo supplied courtesy of the RG collection.

Bertie Chapman (England, 1898)

A HBC reader has submitted a charming portrait of Bertie Chapman. We believe that he may be English and his portrait was taken in 1898. He wears long curls done in pig tails with a colored velvet hair bow. His outfit is all white, including his lace trimed dressm spcks, and shoes. Colored is added by a sash. He was nearly 3 years old when the portrait was taken. I am not sure if the portrait was taken at home or in a photographic studio.

The Boy

We have little infornation about this boy other than he may be English and his name is Bertir Chapman. Bertie was 2 years old and 10 months at the time the portrait was taken.


The cabient card has the name of the photographer and city. The photographer was W.M. Harrison, who points out that he has been awarded 25 medals. The location of the studio is Falmouth, Truro. Falmouth is a seaside resort in the far west of Englandm near Land's End in Corwall. This would of course explain Bertie's bucket and shovel. Presumably his parents were visiting for a holiday. I'm not sure what Truro means. The cabinent card also says Helston, Redruth. I'm not not familair with these locations, but they might be the location of another studio.


Bertie's mother kindly dated the portrait for us. It was taken in 1898.

Hair Style

The boy has long blond hair which falls down just to his shoulders. The hair was done in pig tails. While quite a number of boys, especially younger boys, wore long hair in in the late 19th century, pig tails were not a common style--either for boys or girls. Notice the colored hair boy on his shoulder. It looks to be velvet. The bow was no doubt lovingly placed there by his mother so it would show in the photograph. I'm not sure wghat color it was, but it looks different than the sash.


Several items of clothing that the boy is wearing and clothing detailing are worthy of note.


Berie wears a white, lace-trimmed dress. White was very common for a boys' dress, especially by the tuen of the century. Eyelet lace trim is clearly visable in the portrait. The sleeves are short and appear to be dome in apuffed style. The hem of the dress is a little confusing. Bertie may be wearing a petticator pantalets. Other than the hoir bow, the only color is added by the large sash. I'm not sure what color it was, but it may have been red.


Bertie wears short white socks. Short socks were more common for younger boys hus age than for older boys.


Bertie wears rather modern looking white socks.


Bertie has a bucket and shovel, necessary acoyements for a boy on a beach outing. One wonders if hecactually weore this dress to the beach or just why those props werecchosen. Perhaps the portrait was taken during a beach holiday.


I am not sure if the portrait was taken at home or in a photographic studio. Because of the stairs I thought it was a home portrait which would suggest that Bertie came from a wealthy or at least affluent family. In looking the portrait over, however, I am inclined to say that it was a studio portrait.


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Created: September 17, 2001
Last edited: September 18, 2001