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Bronte Sisters Photo Discovery


Bronte Sisters Photo Discovery

Bronte Mystery

There are no known photographs of the Bronte Sisters but an 'alleged' photo of them has been discovered.

It needs authenticating. Can anyone help the researcher?

The photo is thought to be a Collodion copy of a Daguerreotype. The photographer who they think copied it is John Stewart of Pau, France & London, England. He was brother-in-law of Sir John Herschel.

The original photo must have been taken before Emily died in 1848.

Why is there is no backdrop, just a brick wall?

How to tell if it is copy or not?

the website is here

Members: 11
Latest Activity: Aug 30

An update.

An update.

Straw Hats and Cloaks: "In the 1840s this style of hat was unique to Germany. Charlotte's close friend Mary Taylor (early feminist) returned from Germany in December 1844 and stayed with the sisters at Haworth Parsonage."

Charlotte Bronte: Page revised Gaskell & Richmond Portrait.

New page: Dating the Photo.

Discussion Forum

Early Carte de Visites of the Brontes

I came across an article in the Bradford Observer 19th November 1857 p8 which describes how two visitors to Haworth and to Patrick Bronte himself came across a frame of photographs outside a chemists shop in Haworth and bought a portrait of Patrick…Continue

Started by Steve Lightfoot Aug 9, 2017.

Portraits of Bronte Sisters 3 Replies

The solution that a copy had been made of a daguerreotype sounds plausible. But how could such a portrait have been found in France?John Stewart lived in France because of the poor health of his mother in law. With her he visited the Pau region.…Continue

Started by Izaak Boone. Last reply by Izaak Boone Oct 3, 2016.

New information on the Bronte portraits

There is new information on the website. profile portrait of Emily Bronte at the National Portrait Gallery in London is disputed since 1914 and may be of…Continue

Started by Nicolas Sep 19, 2015.

Alleged Bronte sisters photo 1 Reply

I am always fascinated by these mysteries, but in my experience they usually get involved in so much minutiae that the central question becomes lost. I have no particular knowledge of the Brontes, but as a photo historian, this looks to me to be an…Continue

Started by Ken Jacobson. Last reply by james frederick gorin von grozny Aug 30.

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Comment by james frederick gorin von grozny on August 30, 2018 at 10:32

Fascinating link of association Nicolas.. but implies either George Smith had the same pic- or another exposure was taken while the light was good- and so may survive and be found.. I think the one discussed found S,France was never seen because, much to Chrltt's horror and surprise, the heartless, probing lens betrayed her growing dependancy on laudanum,

Comment by Nicolas on August 29, 2018 at 20:13

This is a forwarded message:

"A connection to Charlotte Bronte's publisher George Smith may be made through Frederick Walker's watercolour 'Rochester & Jane Eyre', the earliest surviving artwork for the novel Jane Eyre.

Just a few years separate the photo c1857 and his watercolour of 1863. It is no coincidence that the setting is so similar, three figures in a garden with a brick wall in the background, or that the two masculine figures have a shadow over the eyes from a hat, even though Rochester is hatless.

Many of Frederick Walker's preliminary sketches survive so if his inspiration did come from the photograph these examples may exist as well."

Comment by james frederick gorin von grozny on July 30, 2018 at 12:53

Winter capes and summer hats- the girls corresponding with Emily & Chrltt. wear plush Brussels chenille, Anne's a locally available fabric- the hats are contemporary in cosmopolitan continental cities 1830's-'40's. Brought together out of season they are sentimentally related, and seem to come from the same place. The cloaks, and or hats may have been gifts from the Taylor sisters affluent in Brussels, and pure conjecture- if not intended for them, the image may have been gifted to them. It seems the cruel, probing, heartless lens of the first pic- that must have horrified Chrltt.- has been tamed in the second. The girls had opportunity visiting York after aunt 'Liz funeral Nov 1842 (each inherit £300 [£350] ), Chrltt returned to Brussels in Jan '43.    

Comment by Nicolas on August 22, 2017 at 22:53

New page added to website - The Lost Portrait of Emily Bronte.

Comment by Nicolas on September 21, 2014 at 21:22

The website has been updated with new information.

The York Daguerreotype Studio is the possible location and there are photos of the building.

The Bronte Sisters stayed nearby when in York.

Comment by Nicolas on September 6, 2014 at 18:49


We are cautiously optimistic that the location – where the photograph was taken – has been identified, along with the name of the photographer.

If the location is correct then some of the brickwork remains, but not the part seen in the photo. All is not lost though because it may have survived until quite recently, and if it did, then there is a good chance that there are photos of it.

A definite match would prove that the image dates to the time of the Bronte Sisters because the house was only occupied by a photographer in the 1840s. There's a lot more work to be done but the wall in the background of the photo may be the key to unlock this mystery.

The web-pages will be adapted to take this and other information into account; the website should be re-launched on or before 20 September 2014.

Comment by Nicolas on November 3, 2013 at 12:07


The Bronte Museum website ask the question: Is this a photo of the Brontë sisters together? Experts say no.

The "experts" we discover are at the National Media Museum who "were dubious" and so it is they who say it is not a photo of the Brontes? The reason is that the photo is from the 1850s, too late for the Brontes.

The researchers do not claim it to be an 1840s photo. They think it is an 1850s copy by John Stewart.

More bizarre, the Bronte Museum state that these womens don't resemble the Bronte Sisters. Evidently many members of the Bronte Society do not agree because they aid the research.

The rest of the page is strange to read and unbalanced. I cannot explain but the researchers have responded on Museum Statement. It all looks very unprofessional.

Comment by Nicolas on October 17, 2013 at 1:33

... and infos on John Jabez Edwin Mayall is here 


Comment by Nicolas on October 17, 2013 at 1:30

The website is revised a little:

Emily Bronte page is interesting with pictures of her mother.

The pages are here: 

Comment by Nicolas on February 20, 2013 at 23:42

The website which hosts the research on this "Bronte Sisters Photo?" - -

"....has been revised with more evidence and information... clearer images to make comparison easier..a revised summary... a new page explains why another photo, what was thought to be the only known photo of Charlotte, (discovered in 1986), cannot be of her."

Other discoveries are:

‘Charlotte?’ and ‘Emily?’ in the photo have several spots on their faces but ‘Anne?’ hasn’t. We know Charlotte and Emily’s faces were "marred by poor complexions" but Anne’s was clear.

‘Charlotte?’ and ‘Emily?’ in the photo are wearing thick travelling cloaks (they travelled to Belgium in the winter of 1842) whilst 'Anne?' in the photo has a cloak of a thin material (she stayed at home).  

‘Charlotte?’ in the photo has a mouth which turns down to her right side, as in Richmond Portrait of her. Charlotte’s mouth was described as ‘crooked’

In 1855 Mayall developed an improved method of copying daguerreotypes onto glass and then onto paper. There is a newspaper cutting here.

There is other infos as well.


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