Your Family History - - Snapshots -

This sec­ond im­age is of the Amer­i­can ac­tress Jen­nie Lee (1848–1925), and dates from around 1882. Again, it is num­bered, and shows that it was part of a se­ries of cards fea­tur­ing ‘Celebri­ties’. The pho­tog­ra­pher stu­dio is given as House­worth’s, San Fran­cisco; the Broad­way Pho­to­graphs web­site ( www. broad­way.cas.sc.edu) states that Thomas House­worth (1828–1916) was ‘the first im­por­tant pho­tog­ra­pher of celebri­ties in San Fran­cisco’, but that by the 1880s, his reg­u­lar use of ‘Western’ style back­drops in his pho­tog­ra­pher was be­com­ing rather old-fash­ioned. It’s in­ter­est­ing, then, that he has aban­doned the back­drop here, let­ting the fo­cus be purely on the fig­ure of the ac­tress in­stead.

Those ac­tresses with long, suc­cess­ful ca­reers might of course be pho­tographed sev­eral times for the ben­e­fit of the pub­lic. This pic­ture is also of Jen­nie Lee, but is from ten years ear­lier than the one above. She is clearly younger in this im­age, and her hair is also a dif­fer­ent colour! But per­haps the key dif­fer­ence is that here, she ap­pears to be in cos­tume for a part she was play­ing. The or­nate head­dress and large drop ear­rings are in stark con­trast to her de­mure dress, bare head, and plainer hoop ear­rings in the later pic­ture. The ear­lier pic­ture shows her look­ing away from the cam­era, quite de­murely, whereas by 1882, she is look­ing straight at the cam­era – and her au­di­ence – dis­play­ing the con­fi­dence that comes from an es­tab­lished ca­reer.

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