Research: Mourning photo.

12201013894?profile=originalHello, I was hoping someone here can help me identify or understand this recently acquired albumen photo.I believe it is British, and shows a man, a dog, and a dead bird. Can't really tell what's going on here...Was the bird a pet-parrot perhaps? did the dog kill it? or is this a hunting photo?

Is the man wearing a clerical collar? Is that a fluffy cat by his feet?

The dog bears a resemblance to Charles Dogson's brother's dog Dido, although that would be quite a stretch.

Just fascinated by the mystery of what is going on here.

Any info-or guesses- would be appreciated.




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  • Could the whorl above the hat be a hydrangea flower?  Were they common garden shrubs / had they been hybridised to have those sort of heads at that period?

    It's not a very grand house, is it?  A country cottage rather than a big manse? Would a country curate live in a house like that?  And can anything be gleaned about the locations from the bricks and brickwork pattern?  Did they vary in different parts of England?

  • Thank you so much Keith!

  • I had the whole album online on a website until recently but felt I had drawn in as new information as I could so took it down. I am very familiar with the architecture and hardware and of course the people as I have been studying the images for about 20 years as well as having visited her one time home in Oakley Hants and I have just rechecked the dogs and regrettably there is nothing to compare directly with yours. I think I would go online and check out the photos of John Dillwyn Llewellyn. They are of the period and there are hundreds.

    Yes Jane certainly composed her photos and had her people, and if she could, the animals, creating the scene she wanted. But then with several seconds for the exposure I think most of us would have made sure everyone was positioned and ready.



  • Thank you Keith, Please post some more of your photos here when you have time!

    I notice that the parrot here looks very carefully placed. Did Jane St. John pose her photos- like tableaus ?

    Best, David

  • Re Jane St. John, I have about sixty of her photos dating from 1859 to 1866 and many of them include her animals, that she clearly loved dearly. There are four dogs including a black Labrador, the parrot, some goats, and a pair of white ponies. She came from the wealthy Hicks Beach family so keeping all those animals as pets was well within reach. Rectors of various churches were called upon to pose for her camera but this man isn't in any of my photos. As for parrots, I only know that she called hers Polly - well why not!

  • Jane, Thanks for your great observations!

    Converse trainers! No, I'm not ready to add time travel to this mystery!

    I never noticed the dog was wagging it's tail, but the strange whorl above that hat has intrigued me. Is he holding something in his left hand? A ball perhaps?

  • Keith, Thanks for the idea about Jane Martha St. John.  I notice from your photo that she had a parrot! Do you know if this was a popular pet at the time?

  • Just a few thoughts and observations. It's an intriguing image.

    The arch shaped mounting makes for a rather ecclesiastical feel so perhaps contributes to the intentions of the creator. But rather oddly, the man appears to be wearing what looks rather like converse trainers, if it is in fact his foot that is visible. And there is rather an curious curled object under his leg, perhaps a boot scraper? The ‘cat’ seems more like a rug, or a fluffy soft toy. The dog is wagging its tail so must be excited by something, perhaps an onlooker or the photographer, outside of the frame.

    The bottom right section seems to show an error in developing or printing? Although it can't be, it looks like the sort of blur or smudge you would get from the clumsy use of the clone tool in photoshop. Rather like a ghosting of part of another image on a slant across the corner. There is another strange whorl just above the man’s his hat.

    It is an odd image and a lovely challenge to unravel the puzzle of what is going on, or create a story from it. 

  • The style and period, c.1860,  is in the manner of Jane Martha St. John.

  • More like eternal rest

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