4/25/2008

Photo of the week - Lady Salisbury-Trelawny and her daughters, 1900

Date: 1900
Photographer: Lafayette
Provenience: London, England

This lovely photo of Lady Salisbury-Trelawny and her daughters Dolores and Rebecca is not to commemorate a daughterly double-wedding but a picture taken in remembrance of their presentation at court. When being presented at court you were supposed to look like a bride at the time and that is exactly what the two younger women are doing - they are even wearing veils and bouquets of flowers; Rebecca is still holding hers but Dolores' is placed on her train.

Their mother does not like she is going to be married, but she is dressed up as if she were going to a fancy party. These functions were important for the mothers too. And even the photo-studio looks formal. The backdrop does not show anything else but a painted try at looking like a castle. This was a very common choice for these pictures and can be seen in many of them.

All of these factors makes the photo rather special. This was not the way that even nobles normally dressed - but at the same time it was the height of fashion and a must to study if this time is something that interests you.

To be presented to the queen or king, as it would be later, was still an important thing for the nobles of England, they were supposed to dress with all the splendour they could muster - and most of them chose to turn to Lafayette photo-studios to take a picture of them all dressed up. The photo-studio's origin was Irish, but they had caught the attentions of the royals and by now they had a studio on New Bond street. If you were someone you were supposed to have your photo taken there - and that was true for both nobles and actresses.

For once this photo is not from my own collection but the public archives of Lafayette.

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