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:
- Researching an album from Cleveland, Ohio - Introduction
- Researching an album: (1) A digital photographic and scanned record
- Researching an album: (2) Documenting the album and photographs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 LoverReferences
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.