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I wonder if anyone can identify this subject of an Elliott & Fry carte de visite portrait? I've included scans of both the recto and verso. I appreciate any ideas!

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Louis Alexis Chamerovzow (1816-1875), Secretary of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.

Thank you SO much Marcel! You're wealth of knowledge is astounding, and I do appreciate your generosity with this knowledge. 

While we are on the subject of Elliott & Fry, this one was found on the back of a picture frame in Helensburgh, Scotland. We tried it on Roedean School but their (very helpful) archivist said it was not them, nor other schools she contacted, but it would be interesting to know who these delightful ladies were.

Hi David,

As a firm, Elliott & Fry are so well known for their cdv's that you forget of course they worked in all other formats, like any other photography studio of the era. 

But what do you mean by "found on the back of a picture frame"? And what, or who is the Rodean school that would make you think that they might possibly know the identities of the sitters?

Regards,

John

David, a few thoughts:

1) if it's the teaching body of a (girls') school, the size (about 40 individuals) would mean it would have to be quite a large one, so your initial instinct re Roedean was a good one. But the painting at the back suggests a Catholic school, and I'm not sure any Catholic girls' schools in the UK in the late 19th century would have been large enough.

2) Therefore, another possibility is that it's the members of a women's college, e.g. Girton or Newnham at Cambridge (founded in 1869 and 1871 respectively), Lady Margaret Hall or Sommerville at Oxford (1878, 1879), or Royal Holloway in Surrey/University of London (1879), or since it was found in Helensburgh perhaps members of the Edinburgh Ladies' Educational Association, founded in 1867 (though since it's a London-based photographer that's perhaps less likely). None of these were Catholic institutions however, so perhaps the Raphael on the wall is a red herring (which keeps the school possibility open, though I think a college body more likely).

3) Someone with expertise in costume history would probably be able to pin down a fairly narrow date range for the photo from the clothes the women are wearing. This might rule in or out some of the possibilities mentioned above.

David Bruce said:

While we are on the subject of Elliott & Fry, this one was found on the back of a picture frame in Helensburgh, Scotland. We tried it on Roedean School but their (very helpful) archivist said it was not them, nor other schools she contacted, but it would be interesting to know who these delightful ladies were.

Thank you, John and Jonathan. 'On the back of a picture frame': what I meant was that the photograph was being used as the backing board to a watercolour painting. Unfortunately, the friend who gave me this object can't remember where he bought the painting or anything about it!

Roedean was/is perhaps the leading school in England for young ladies. It was founded in 1885.

The dating: the clue is the 'mutton' sleeves which became fashionable in the 1890s but were on the way out by 1905 so we have a fairly good guess that this is circa 1900 or perhaps a little earlier. Also, the gas lights on the wall apparently have no mantles so maybe electricity has taken over.

The subject: we did wonder if it was a college and may pursue that line. We agree the painting on the wall could signify a Catholic institution which might explain the absence of men but would have expected a nun or two to show up. We note the range of ages, so teachers and other staff would fit. Census returns suggest that even all-female (student) institutions would have some males on the staff. We think the location much more likely to be in south England rather than Scotland where there were plenty of photographers to do that sort of thing.

At any rate, it is a nice piece of work and I do hope that someone recognises their granny in it.

All very interesting!

If you got in touch with the librarians of those colleges I listed in my previous post they would probably be able to tell you instantly if it was theirs.

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