Thursday, 18 September 2008

A child's portrait by Frederick J. Boyes of Derby

Hilary Booth sent me this charming portrait of family member Florrie Swann, taken by Derby photographer Frederick J. Boyes.

Image © & courtesy of Hilary Booth

Hilary writes: "Florence Swann's mother Harriet Clark was Mary Clark née Porter's first child. We have traced Harriet on the census records until 1901 when she was working at a lunatic asylum in Bristol, unmarried. We have found a marriage record in 1908, so we think Florence Swann was born around 1910? She had a sibling Leslie who was born about 1912. Hopefully we may be able to be more accurate when the next census record is released.

Image © & courtesy of Hilary Booth

The cabinet card mount is one of Boyes' most common standard designs, used from 1893 until the early to mid-1900s. One interesting feature of Boyes' cabinet card and carte de visite portraits is that he stamped almost all of them with the negative number. Although my portfolio of Boyes portraits is still fairly small, and I only have a few which are accurately dated, this has given me some idea of his output.
Neg # --- Date
4188 --- c.1889-1891
6634 --- c.1893
12538 --- c.1896-1897
14446 --- April 1898
17249 --- c.Nov 1901
Boyes was a particularly accomplished photographer who, although he had a fairly late start in Derby c. 1886, quickly established an excellent reputation for fine quality portraiture. I estimate that by the turn of the century he was taking between 60 and 100 portraits a month (or 2-4 sittings a day). This was, of course, nothing like the 450-500 sittings per month being achieved by W.W. Winter in Midland Road at this time, but then Winter had been much longer established, and was situated in a very favourable location, close to the Derby railway station.

Image © Brett Payne

A simple graph of the negative numbers plotted against the estimated or actual date of the portraits in my collection of images shows a fairly good trend (see above). If this trend is then extrapolated forwards, we can estimate an approximate date of c. March-May 1904 for Hilary's portrait with a negative number of 20025. Although I am less confident of this estimate than I might have been for one in the date range 1891-1901, since I don't have any dated F.J. Boyes portraits with negative numbers from after 1901, it at least gives us an idea of when it might have been taken. It is odd that my estimate is some seven years earlier than might be expected from Hilary's guess of a birth date for Florrie of around 1910.

Image © & courtesy of Hilary Booth

Hilary also sent me this postcard portrait of a slightly older Florrie Swann with her younger brother Leslie. There is a definite likeness. Unfortunately, there is little on this portrait to provide an accurate date either, but I estimate it was taken in the early 1910s, say between 1910 and 1914.

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