Wednesday, 19 December 2007

A & G Taylor, Photographers to the World (1)

Over the last couple of years I've been sent several portraits by the firm of A & G Taylor and, although I have a profile of the Derby branch, and there a couple of accounts of the studios on other sites (by Roger Vaughan's study and Peter Stubb's Edinphoto study), it might be interesting for readers to see some images of a selection of their CDVs and cabinet cards here.

Image © & courtesy of Diana Mungall

The first portrait was sent to me by Diana Mungall, who provided the following background information about her great-grandparents:

I do know it was taken in their Edinburgh studio. The couple came from Harthill, between Glasgow and Edinburgh. He was born in 1843 and she in 1848 and she died in 1882 and he in 1884, and I understand Taylors operated from 63 Princes Street 1878-1910. Is there any information that can be elicited from this photo - he was a farmer (he died in a shooting accident) but looks very far from my idea of a rugged outdoor worker!
Peter Stubb's profile of the Edinburgh branch indicates that it operated from 1878 to 1910. This appears to be a cabinet card and the card mount is of a style commonly used by many A & G Taylor branches through the United Kingdom in the mid-1890s. It is glossy, thick card, probably with a blank reverse. I have a similar cabinet card of my grandfather and great-grandparents, shown below, which was taken - despite the mount indicating "Leeds" - at Derby c. 1896-1897.

Image © & courtesy of Brett Payne

The portrait of Diana's great-grandparents was certainly not taken in the mid-1890s. The pose, hair styles and clothing (e.g. her narrow sleeves and pleated bodice) are characteristic of the late 1860s and early 1870s. It is worth comparing the pose with that in the ambrotype shown below, which I have tentatively dated as being from the early 1860s.

Image © & courtesy of Brett Payne

The woman's hair style, drawn back well behind the ears, suggests that its was taken in the late 1860s, rather than early to mid-1860s, when only some of none of her ears would be showing. The cabinet card must therefore be a copy made of the original portrait, probably a carte de visite, some 25 years or so later. The couple appear fairly young to me, perhaps in their early 20s, and it may well have been a wedding portrait, as I have assumed for the ambrotype shown above. My guess is that the couple would have been born between 1842 and 1850, and I hope this fits with the dates that Diana has forher great-grandparents.

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