Thursday, 7 August 2008

Three family portraits by T.E. Price of Masterton

This series of three cabinet card portraits by T.E. Price of Masterton were purchased in the same lot, and probably all come from one family. The design of the card mount, a diagonal "signature" with motif, scroll and several fonts in gold ink on glossy dark brown or bright red card, suggests a date of the 1880s.

Image © and collection of Brett PayneImage © and collection of Brett PayneImage © and collection of Brett Payne

The vignetted portrait with a dark brown glossy card mount is possibly the earliest of the three, showing two very young children seated on sheepskin rugs draped over a chair.

The next, a full length portrait with a red mount, has a standing teenage girl, perhaps 12 to 14 years old, and a younger boy, maybe five or six years old, dressed in a coat and seated on a fake "concrete" balustrade. There is a painted "bush" backdrop, as well as a large planter on the end of the balustrade, and bushes and grasses rather haphazardly arranged to give the impression of an outdoors setting. The girl is wearing a tight-fitting corsetted boddice and full skirt, and shoulders/sleeves with rows of decorative buttons, which are indicative of the late 1880s or very early 1890s. I estimate a date of somewhere between 1887 and 1891. The reverse of this card mount has the name , "Aunt Annie," written in ink; presumably this refers to the teenage girl.

The third portrait has a cameo frame and shows a young child seated on a sheepskin rug, holding a flower. It also has a red mount and was probably taken around the same time as the previously described photo.

Thomas Edward Price was born in New South Wales and emigrated to New Zealand in 1863. He operated studios briefly in Charleston (1869) and Timaru (1873-1879), before settling in Masterton in 1879, where he remained until about 1897. He then spent a year or so in Te Aroha (1898) before moving to Tauranga in 1899. The Auckland City Library's Photographers Database shows him in Tauranga until at least 1929.

Image © and courtesy of Papers Past & the National Library of New Zealand
Advertisement in the Bay of Plenty Times, dated 19 December 1902
Image © and courtesy of Papers Past & the National Library of New Zealand

Price also had a branch studio in Waihi in 1899 and 1900, which was sold to George Foy in May 1900. Thomas Price died in Tauranga around 1928.

One of Price's earlier portraits from the Masterton period is included on this Danish web page. I estimate that it was taken in 1879 or 1880.

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