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Unidentified Early British Photograph

Greetings all. I have recently acquired the attached photograph. The image, removed from an album containing other images from Britain c. 1855, is mounted on thin paper and appears to be a salt print -- possibly from a paper negative. Unfortunately there are no notations identifying location, date, or maker. Any help identifying this photograph will be greatly appreciated. 

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Comment by Terence Walters on August 26, 2012 at 18:43

Following up on Michael Hocken's post of June 12th I too thought I could see wording at the base of the photo. I captured  a small section of the image and played with it in Photoshop and printed on photo paper  and it appears to read Robert then  Ca (or o )stla------ous .  Second signature is less clear than the first and of course working from a photo doesn't give very good resolution.  Maybe a good image from the original of the bottom of the image ( south and either side along the curve of the photo) will help ?

Comment by Steven Evans on August 26, 2012 at 0:33

Hello all.

Here is the most recent info regarding the boat house photo. I received a fantastic email from photographer Nick Tsiatinis whose contemporary image (on his website) of a boat house in Ullswater caught my eye. His information, along with the note and link from Michael Hocken help confirm that the subject in the salt print photograph is indeed a boat house near Glenridding at the southern tip of Ullswater. Nick's email to me is copied below. With the link provided by Nick, I used Google Street View to find a location looking back from the boat house towards the point where the photo was most likely taken. See Nick's note, his additional photos, and the Google Street View below.

The search for the maker of the salt print continues and any suggestions will be hugely appreciated.

From Nick: The location’s really easy to remember – it was on the southernmost tip of the lake, on the left hand side. In fact – this will show you exactly where it is…

If you note, you can see the boat house a little bit up the road. I took my photograph from just to the left of the other structure you can see on the right hand side of that map. It had just started raining with a little bit of snow(!) so I was hiding under the trees getting a little bit of shelter until the rain moved on! For a more top-down overview you can see it on this map - My photo was taken from just where the A592 leaves the side of Ullswater.


The 1800’s photo looks like it was taken from a spot a bit further to the right than mine was – and this is entirely feasible for it to have been done on land. From the first map you can see the other structure on the right hand side – there was a fence around it which prevented me from getting to the right hand side, but there was plenty of land over there that your unidentified photograph could have been taken from.



Comment by Steven Evans on August 25, 2012 at 21:06
Hi Michael, Thanks very much for the link. I just received a reply from the author of the contemporary photograph that confirms the location. I am waiting to hear back from him re: permission to publish his response on on this website. I'll get back to you et. al soon....
Comment by Michael Hocken on August 25, 2012 at 20:58
See here for some good 'positioning' shots (including an 18thC map showing the boathouse's location near Patterdale). Apparently it since acquired the name The Electric Boathouse (Flickr has some impressive modern views showing the 'lightning bolts' in each door).
Comment by Steven Evans on August 25, 2012 at 19:34
Hi Jonathan, Thanks so much for your reply. For the benefit of other readers following this blog I am adding a link to "The Prelude."

I agree that chances are the unknown photographer may by well have been "channeling" the poem when the photo was taken. The big mystery remaining is the identity of the maker. The print has the distinct "cool" quality of a developing out salt print rather than the warmth of a straight p.o.p. salt print. Perhaps it was taken and/or printed by Thomas Sutton?

BTW... It occurred to me that the 19th century photographer would have to have taken the image on terra firma, so I have written to the gent who took the contemporary photograph to ask him for any info that might help confirm that the two photos are of the same location. Stay tuned!
Comment by Jonathan Dore on August 25, 2012 at 9:23

Congratulations Steven, I'm certain that's it! The stonework, the jetty, the shoreline all match, and the clincher is the shape of the mountain outline against the sky at top right. What a wonderful find! Now that you know it's Ullswater that makes the artistic resonance even greater  --  Ullswater is where Wordsworth "borrowed" the boat in which he rowed out into the lake on a moonless night, as famously recounted in The Prelude. That was published in 1850, and this photo you say dates from just a few years later ... Maybe the photographer had it in mind, and meant his image as a kind of hommage? (Wordsworth described it as being "tied to a willow tree, within a rocky cave", but allowing for poetic licence it was a connection that an educated viewer  --  if they knew it was a view of Ullswater  --  might have been expected to make at the time, when the poem was a sensation.)

Comment by Steven Evans on August 19, 2012 at 16:00

Hi Jonathan, Thanks for your note. After viewing a few other photos of similar structures I realized the Keswick Boat House just didn't quite match. I think I may have come up with something very similar and include herewith a link for you to see. Scroll down to find the photo and tell me what you think.

Comment by Jonathan Dore on August 19, 2012 at 12:09

Hi Steven, I'm intrigued  --  have you heard back from the owners? I had a look online too and the Keswick Boat House on Derwentwater does seem to be a good fit.

Comment by Steven Evans on June 20, 2012 at 23:23

Hello Michael, Thanks for your note, but unfortunately there is no signature to be found. Wish there was! S.

Comment by Michael Hocken on June 20, 2012 at 22:53
Difficult to make out on screen, but it looks to me that there's a signature or inscription of some sort along the bottom of the image. A closer look with a loupe might be worth trying.

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