British photographic history

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Henry Peach Robinson - a Recorder of Poverty?

I would be interested to hear members' reactions to the posted photograph, as I have not encountered one like it before.  The original is a carte-de-visite, bearing an early Leamington imprint of H. P. Robinson, prior to October 1862, but one wonders whether this remarkable if rather disturbing and pathetic image could really have been taken in the back-alleys of Leamington, or whether Robinson might have gone farther afield to record such sights.  Margaret Harker's book makes no mention of him as a social recorder, and it is always possible that this may be a copy of someone else's image, but the definition does seem rather too good for that.

It more calls to mind some of the photography of Thomas Barnardo, although if genuine one hopes that it was not as manipulated as some of his pictures evidently were.  The blanket wrapped around the child does look rather too clean and perfect to have been hers, although there are pieces of paper and even a matchstick at her feet.  Might this have been staged, or could this be one of his daughters dressed up for the part?

Peter Klein

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Hello Peter

I would think this could well be his daughter who would have been two at the time - possibly a study for a larger print - lovely carte though

Graham

Hello Graham,

It's good to hear from you.  It does rather look like his daughter, Edith - the only pictures I have seen of her were taken a few years later, but there is a resemblance.  Although evidently set up, it's a very persuasive image, and the result is quite haunting.  I can't recall any larger print of which this might have been an element, so perhaps it was never completed?

Kind regards and best wishes,

Peter 

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