Thursday, 28 March 2013

Sepia Saturday 170: The Gamekeeper


Sepia Saturday by Alan Burnett and Kat Mortensen

I trust that Sepia Saturday readers will forgive my contribution this week having little in common with the photo prompt, except in the sense of two men loitering around a doorway. Actually there's not even a doorway in my photograph, although the sharp-eyed will note that there used to be one.

This cabinet portrait is the first photograph in an album given to me several years ago by Jack Armstrong, which is the subject of an ongoing (albeit not very recent) series of Photo-Sleuth articles devoted to documenting, researching and conserving old photograph albums:

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified men outside house
Cabinet card by unknown photographer
Image © and collection of Brett Payne (Jack Armstrong Album)

The cabinet mount is glossy green card with no printed indication of the photographer or the location, which is unfortunate. Based on a geographical analysis conducted of the contents of the album - due to appear as the next article in the series mentioned above, in due course - and careful scrutiny of the building's brickwork style by fellow Sepian Nigel Aspdin, it seems likely that it was taken somewhere in the English Midlands, probably in north-east Staffordshire or southern Derbyshire.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

Both men stand with their left hands on their hips and are wearing trousers, jacket, waistcoat and flat caps, superficially very similar, but on closer examination a number of differences are apparent setting them well apart. On the left, the slightly older, moustachioed man has a nicely cut jacket with matching waistcoat, a cravate and what appears to be a pair of check Tweed trousers (perhaps even the Prince of Wales check, commissioned first by Edward VII). His shoes are highly polished, his flat cap (possibly also made of Tweed) sits at a slight angle and he carries a cane in his right hand.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The more hirsute man on the right, however, has a thicker jacket and waistcoat to protect from him from the elements, and with plenty of pockets, well-worn, faded and creased working trousers tucked into calf-length gaiters, which in turn cover the upper parts of a pair of clean, but slightly duller working boots with thick soles. His flat cap, like the rest of his clothes, is unpatterned and rather utitlitarian, covering his hair and with the peak horizontally set above his eyes. His only concession to flair is a spotted cravate, just visible beneath a roughly trimmed beard.

Image © Freda Longstaff and courtesy of Lunedale Heritage Image Archive
Gamekeepers and dogs at Wemmergill, undated, probably c1900s
Image © Freda Longstaff and courtesy of Lunedale Heritage Image Archive

It occurred to me that the man on the left was probably a landowner, while the other, probably his employee, is most likely a gamekeeper. A dog - possibly a spaniel, although I'm no expert on breeds - the one accessory that a gamekeeper could not do without, sits patiently at his feet. Searching for images of Victorian and Edwardian gamekeepers on the net produced a brace of similar examples, including the group above, complete with a very similar breed of dog, but I remembered that I have another in my collection of images contributed to the archive for Derbyshire Photographers.

Image © and courtesy of John Bradley
Unidentified gamekeeper
Carte de visite by Thomas Roberts of Albert Street, Derby
Image © and courtesy of John Bradley

This full length portrait from the early 1860s is almost certainly of a gamekeeper with his shotgun, sadly without a spaniel, but wearing similar working clothing except for a flat cap, replaced by a fairly low-crowned, practical top hat. His gaiters are almost identical to those worn by our putative gamekeeper in the first image. Unfortunately the subject this one is likewise not identified, leaving us to assume that he was employed on an estate somewhere near Derby.

Thomas Roberts, Derby's first resident photographer, operated studios in Victoria Street, Oakes' Yard, St James' Lane and Albert Street from 1843 intermittently until 1876. His studio was situated in Albert Street in the latter part of this period, from c.1862 onwards, giving us an earliest date for the portrait.


Unidentified subject with gun and dog, c.1865-1867
Carte de visite by Disdéri & Co, 70-72 Brook Street, Hanover Square W.

Finally I include an image that I've had on file for a while, having found it on eBay (although it was too pricey for me to consider purchasing). The carte de visite was produced by, and presumably taken at, the Westminster branch studio of renowned photographer Disdéri, who operated from this particular address (70,71,72 Brook Street) for a relatively short period of three years, providing a narrow date range for the portrait. Disdéri is credited with the introduction, in 1854, and later popularisation of the carte de visite format.

The young man pictured sitting rather unceremoniously on an what appears to be an upturned tub or half-barrel has all the trappings of a gamekeeper, including stout shoes, shoulder patches, a double-barrelled shotgun and a dutiful dog at his feet.

Image © and courtesy of The Royal CollectionImage © and courtesy of The Di Rocco Wieler Private Collection
H.R.H. Albert Edward, Prince of Wales
(Left) Detail from portrait by Abdullah Freres, Constantinople, c1868
(Right) Carte de visite portrait by Sergei Levitsky, c1870
Images © The Royal Collection and The Di Rocco Wieler Private Collection

His face looked to me rather familiar, and I wondered if he was a young Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII. Certainly he looks very similar to these two portraits of him taken in the late 1860s.

Image © and courtesy of the National Portrait GalleryImage © and courtesy of the National Portrait GalleryImage © and courtesy of the National Portrait GalleryImage © and courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery
Carte de visite portraits of H.R.H. Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh
by (Top) James Russell & Sons, Chichester, 1866 (Lower left) S.B. Barnard, Cape Town, August 1867 (Lower right) Johnstone, O'Shannessy & Co., Melbourne, 1867-1868
Images © and courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

However, while searching for images of the young Prince in the right time frame (1865-1867) I came across several of his younger brother, Prince Alfred, from May 1866 the Duke of Edinburgh and later the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. During the period in question he was serving as a Captain in the Royal Navy, in command of the frigate HMS Galatea, and sailed on a voyage around the world from January 1867 until June 1871, interrupted by a trip back to England after a failed assassination attempt in Sydney, Australia.

The National Portrait Gallery has a number of portraits of Prince Alfred, including the four above taken in various studios from 1866 to 1868. It is these portraits that have convinced me that the Disderi CDV is indeed of Prince Alfred, not really masquerading as a gamekeeper, but ready to go out for a spot of pheasant shooting.

To end this addition to my intermittent series of Victorian portraits depicting occupations, I'll leave you with a description of an encounter with a gamekeeper and his dog.

She was watching a brown spaniel that had run out of a side-path, and was looking towards them with a lifted nose, making a soft fluffy bark. A man with a gun strode swiftly, softly out after the dog, facing their way as if about to attack them; then stopped instead, saluted, and was turning downhill. It was only the new game-keeper, but he had frightened Connie, he seemed to emerge with such a swift menace ... He was a man in dark green velveteens and gaiters ... the old style, with a red face and red moustache and distant eyes. He was going quickly downhill. 'Mellors!' called Clifford.

D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover

References

Archival Gamekeepers, from Archival Clothing.

Andre Adolphe Eugene Disderi (1819-1889), from the photoLondon database.

Hirsch, Robert (2009) The Carte de Visite and the Photo Album (Chapter 4.5), in Seizing the Light: A Social History of Photography, Second edition, McGraw-Hill, reproduced on Luminous Lint.

Biography of and Photographs by Disdéri on Luminous Lint.

38 comments:

  1. Another of your "cut and keep" posts which will last longer than any single Sepia Saturday. Very interesting to anyone who enjoys old images and wants to know more about them. On a side note - I am amazed by the very quality of that first photograph, it reminds us all that photographic quality is not a digital invention.

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    1. It is the first photograph on the first page of a family album, and makes a very good opening image, but it's frustrating to know so little about the subjects. Perhaps one day some as yet hidden clues will be revealed and provide the missing pieces to the puzzle. For the moment, though, we'll just have to enjoy it at face value.

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  2. It is certainly interesting to read about gamekeepers and royalty. To end all doubt here is another CDV of PRINCE ALFRED with HUNTING RIFLE by DISDERI.

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    1. Thank you Rob, that certainly is the clincher! Obviously I didn't look hard enough.

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  3. How interesting! Being from the "states" I am amazed hearing about gamekeepers, as well as royalty. Thanks!

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    1. The gamekeepers interest me far more than the royalty, and I would have left the Disderi image as a gamekeeper too, if it were not for a slight nagging feeling that he looked a cut above the average estate employee.

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  4. Yes, that definitely looks like Alfred. Especially when you see the photo from Rob.

    Very interesting post. It took me forever to find the dog in the first photo. Is it my eyes?

    Nancy

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    1. Nancy, I don't think your eyes are at fault at all - I too examined it several times before I noticed the dog.

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  5. The dog with Prince Albert looks like one that could make a soft fluffy bark.

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    1. Yes, I agree - it doesn't look like much oa game dog to me either.

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  6. Men loitering in doorways; what a great idea. Perhaps not! Your gamekeeper collection was far more interesting. A tantalising snippet to end with too.

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    1. I only remembered about the bricked-in doorway in the wall half way through the article, and then went back and amended the intro. One of my family members back in the mid-1800s ended up in court after a confrontation with a gamekeeper on the Earl of Chesterfield's estate, so I think I can claim a vague family connection with gamekeepers, but the "Mellors" image of a gamekeeper left an impression when I first read that book many years ago.

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  7. What an interesting post and great sleuthing. The dog in the first photo is indeed a spaniel - probably a Cocker Spaniel. However I believe the dogs in the group photo are not - they are too big and their ears are not long enough. They look like retrievers of some kind - possibly the Flat Coated Retriever which was very popular at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th cent as a gun dog and a show dog. But I am happy to be corrected on this one.

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    1. I must bow to your obviously greater knowledge on this topic - I know next to nothingt about dog breeds - and I see that Mike has expanded further ...

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  8. during WWII we had dogs that supplemented the meat ration with rabbits and the occasional hare and pheasant. This brought us in contact with local gamekeepers from time to time. They nearly all had spaniels as gundogs so I looked at your post with particular interest.

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    1. "This brought us in contact with local gamekeepers from time to time" - Is this a euphemism for "got us in trouble with gamekeepers," I wonder?

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  9. As I started reading, my thought was "photo sleuth is so fitting". I would never have thought of looking at the brickwork to determine where and when the photo was taken!

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    1. I have to say that Nigel is the knowledgeable one with respect to brickwork.

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  10. Another terrific collection, Brett, and the last quotation was perfect. Could that last photo of Prince Alfred be an alternate inspiration for the prank of "Do you have Prince Albert In a Can?"

    Dog breeds became specialized for different kinds of hunting, and a spaniel as in the first photo might be one of several different kinds of dogs that a gamekeeper would have. Retrievers for water & high brush, spaniels to flush game, pointers for pointing, hounds for chasing, terriers for rabbits, etc. Recently I've seen several old photos that included a favorite hunting dog. It would make an interesting genre to collect.


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    1. Very good, Mike. I hadn't come across that one, and having looked at its derivation, I can see why. It's an American tobacco brand with which I'm unfamiliar.

      Thanks for the clarification about the various breeds of hunting dogs. We had a pointer when I was young, but I never saw it point at anything - mostly it just chased cars up the road, and the neighbour's dogs.

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  11. So very interesting, but now I must know: how did you pinpoint the geography based on brickwork?

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    1. Wendy - Although I am aware that different styles of brickwork have regional characteristics, I have to admit that fellow photo-sleuth and Sepian Nigel is the one who is far more knowledgeable on that subject. It's a combination of the pattern in which the bricks are laid, as well as pointing and finishing styles, brick sizes, and probably a host of other factors.

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  12. I completely missed the dog until you mentioned it. Did Prince Alfred always look so miserable/stuffy/aloof/disinterested?

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    1. It was probably very well practised, and at the risk of upsetting our royalist readers, encouraged during his upbringing.

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  13. Brilliant! The Lady Chatterley quote made me think back to the dark days of yore when I snuck into my parent's bedroom and flipped through their copy looking for the good parts. It's hard today to imagine there was ever a ban on such material. I admire as always the careful analysis of detail. Such a pleasure to read.

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    1. In answer to you, I cannot do it better so I quote his wife Frieda, from her foreword to The First Lady Chatterley>:

      [His} idea was if you put a thing square and fair and above-board, there is no more room for unwholesome mystery. He wanted to do away with the nasty thrill of dirty stories. Words cannot be evil in themselves; it is what you put into them that makes them so. He succeeded to a great extent. It was like dynamite. The people that could not change hated it like poison, but to many it was wholesome shock and an eye-opener.

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  14. As usual, your post is very interesting and very informative, with a wonderful selection of photos. I be back to read the three articles that you wrote and posted to links to near the top.

    Thanks!

    Kathy M.

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed them, Kathy.

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  15. From canes to shotguns,
    there's only a step to take,
    and you took it brilliantly!!
    Enjoyed this post!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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    1. Well the shotgun was missing in that first photograph, but I have a feeling it was not far away.

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  16. This was totally inspiring and I like it when not everyone follows the same path, it's nice to spice things up, and put a good lid or hat on subjects!

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    1. Thank you Karen. I have to mould the Sepia Saturday themes to fit my needs, so sometimes my offerings are indeed a little off the beaten track.

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  17. I'd like to imagine the landowner gave the gamekeeper the cravat as a gift.

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    1. Quite possibly, T+L, and there could have been some emulation going on too.

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  18. How have I missed your last several offerings? They are so interesting. Soon a this crazy A-Z challenge is over, I will have to come back and look.

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    1. Thanks Kristin. I don't know how you manage the A-Z challenge as well. It's all I can do to keep up with a Sepia Saturday contribution each week, on top of reading the others, as well as my other regular followed blogs.

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  19. Brett, a very interesting article. I appreciate the details about the clothing.

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