A return this week to thespian themes on Sepia Saturday, and to a cabinet card portrait by Jacob Schmidt of Belper which I featured on Photo-Sleuth ten months ago.
Elizabeth Adshead of Belper, estd. c.1883-1886
Cabinet card by J. Schmidt of Belper
Image © and courtesy of Robert Silverwood
When I wrote about this portrait previously - Fancy dress or the height of fashion? - I was in two minds about whether or not the subject was wearing a costume for an amateur dramatic production, as suggested by relative Robert Silverwood. The general consensus amongst readers was in agreement with Robert, that is that it had to be a costume.
Unidentified woman in costume, estd. c.1883-1888
Cabinet card by J. Brennen of Derby
Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised then, to come across this cabinet portrait by Derby photographer James Brennen a few months later, but I found it remarkable how similar the two costumes, and poses, are to each other. To me, this makes the case for them being costumes in an amateur theatrical production even stronger.
Richard, Rose (Maybud) and Robin in Ruddigore
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
With the research for a recent Photo-Sleuth article on The Mikado still fresh in my mind, I wondered whether this could have been another Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. Ruddigore seems to provide the most appropriate cast of characters, even though the first date of production by D'Oyly Carte (22nd January 1887) lies towards the end of my date estimates for these two portraits.
Rosina Brandram as Dame Hannah in Ruddigore
Courtesy of Memories of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company
This photograph of Rosina Brandram playing the role of Dame Hannah shows a very similar outfit to that depicted in the Schmidt and Brennen cabinets. I also found an 1892 reference to Dame Hannah being portrayed in "Quaker garb." Perhaps a reader more familiar with late Victorian musicals can suggest which other female theatrical roles might have employed such a costume?