British photographic history

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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. John Stewart was very active with photographers in that region. But he also stood in close contact with Victor Regnault, who became chairman of the Societe Francaise de la Photographie (SFP). John Stewart introduced him to the Royal Photographic Society.

Regnault (and probably also John Stewart) moved in the circle of the Paris salon of Mary Clarke, who was married to the Orientalist Julius (von) Mohl. Regnault made a photograph of Julius Mohl. Julius Mohl had a correspondence with Fox Talbot; both were studying cuneiform. The salon was visited by the most influential French intellectuals. Among them were the liberal democrats de Toqueville and de Lafayette.  Elizabeth Gaskell had a correspondence with Mary Clarke. Gaskell was also befriended with Charlotte Bronte and wrote the first biography Life of Charlotte Brontë. It is possible that John Stewart made the portrait and had send a copy to Elizabeth Gaskell or Mary Clarke. 


Margaret Lesser; Clarkey, a portrait in letters of Mary Clarke Mohl (1793-1883), 1984, Oxford.

Laurie Dahlberg; Victor Regnault and the advance of photography; 2005, Princeton & Oxford

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Replies to This Discussion

Elizabeth Gaskell à Paris

"between 1853 and 1865 she made nine trips to France with seven of them involving time in Paris."

Elizabeth Gaskell: An Annotated Guide to English Language Sources, ... 

In 1853 she stayed with Mary Mohl but of the other occasions I don't know.

John Stewart wanted to meet or photograph literary people. He was in England in 1856 he asked Elizabeth Gaskell for an introduction to William Makepeace Thackeray and the poet Bryan Waller Procter.

Thank you for the details.

On the website now:

"Both John Stewart and Elizabeth Gaskell were in France in 1857.

Stewart either sent or delivered the photos he had taken of Haworth village to Elizabeth Gaskell in January 1857 and later returned to his home in Pau, France.

In March 1857, on completion of the biography of Charlotte Bronte, Mrs Gaskell left Manchester to stay in rue du Bac, Paris, and visited Mary Clarke Mohl. She visited Mary at her famous literary salon on several other occasions over the years."

Another regular visitor to the salon of Mary Clarke Mohl was Fanny Trollope, the mother of the writer Anthony Trollope. Fanny hired in april 1835 an apartment in the Rue de Provence in Paris. In December 1839 Fanny Trollope with her son Anthony visited Paris again. Her son Tom toured at first in Germany but joined his relatives. All were visiting the salon of Mary Clarke in 1839. 

The Dutch Queen Sophie was keen on visiting Mary Clarke. Sophie was a daughter of the king of Baden-Wurtemberg, the intellectual part of Germany (around Stuttgart) where the Von Mohl family came from. The Scharzwald is also part of that kingdom. The Dutch queen was very interested in the work of Florence Nightingale, who stayed a while in Kaiserwerth near Düsseldorf with the followers of Theodore Fliedner. The Dutch queen was friends with a Dutch/English lady Tinne. Her daugher Alexine Tinne was photographed on several occasions around 1860 and seems to wear a hat with the same basic shape as the hat of the Bronte sisters. 



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