British photographic history

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The Bronte Sisters Photo


The Bronte Sisters Photo

A Bronte Mystery

There are no known photographs of the Bronte sisters but a photo with "The Bronte Sisters" written on the reverse in French was discovered in France in 2011.

The photo is a collodion so if these are the sisters then it could only be a copy of a daguerreotype. A photographer living in France, John Stewart of Pau, visited Haworth Parsonage in 1856 and 1857 to photograph the portrait of Charlotte Bronte.

If it is a copy then the original photo must have been taken before Emily Bronte died in December 1848.

the website is here

Members: 15
Latest Activity: Oct 9

An update.

An update - two pages:

From Jenny Lind to Jane Eyre

Hats & Cloaks

"The hat seen in the photo first appeared in the UK in 1847 and was known as a 'Jenny Lind' after the then Swedish singer who became famous in Britain just before the Bronte sisters' novels were published."

"Jenny Lind was in Yorkshire in 1847-48 and Charlotte Bronte was one of her many admirers."

Discussion Forum

Straw hats

 Taken from the 'Strange world of the Bronte's' by |Marie CampbellJonathan Wright Moore and Nancy Drake were both baptised by Patrick Bronte. Jonathan, who was born and baptised in 1847 , remembered Charlotte helping his widowed mother to thread…Continue

Started by Carole L Moores Oct 9.

Photograph of Charlotte Brontë on glass 4 Replies

Whilst researching a lady named Nancy Garrs, for Undercliffe Cemetery, I came across a newspaper article dated 1877 saying that Nancy had on her wall at home a photograph of Miss Brontë on glass. It goes on to compare this with the portrait in…Continue

Started by Steve Lightfoot. Last reply by Lynn Cunliffe May 26, 2019.

Early Carte de Visites of the Brontes 2 Replies

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. Last reply by Carole L Moores Oct 9.

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 2 Replies

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. Last reply by Nicolas Apr 22, 2019.

Alleged Bronte sisters photo 2 Replies

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 Lynn Cunliffe Apr 4, 2019.

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Comment by Nicolas on September 22, 2019 at 19:03

New page added to the website

The Problem with Anne Bronte

The problem of identification is not restricted to portraits of Emily. This page looks at Charlotte Bronte's 'Portrait of a Young Woman' and two other portraits occasionally used as an illustration of Anne Bronte.

Also, photographs of the Bronte's servant, Martha Brown

Comment by Mary Cuperr on July 29, 2019 at 20:05

I like what you are saying, thanks for the info! I would also like to share this article

Comment by Lynn Cunliffe on April 4, 2019 at 23:14
Comment by Nicolas on November 25, 2018 at 2:08

An update - two pages:

From Jenny Lind to Jane Eyre

Hats & Cloaks

"The hat seen in the photo first appeared in the UK in 1847 and was known as a 'Jenny Lind' after the then Swedish singer who became famous in Britain just before the Bronte sisters' novels were published."

"Jenny Lind was in Yorkshire in 1847-48 and Charlotte Bronte was one of her many admirers."

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 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 March 5, 2012 at 22:53

A new website has been created with more informations

Bronte Sisters Website

Comment by Claudia Feio on February 15, 2012 at 12:47
Amazing! I´m a Brontë fan since...well, forever!, and if this is really an authentic photography of the Brontë sisters it will be revolutionary for Brontë scholars. That´s one of those findings that are a dream come true for historians!

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