Your old pho­to­graphs an­a­lysed by our ex­pert Au­drey Linkman

Your Family History - - Contents -

Au­drey Linkman tells us about a mar­ried cou­ple, cap­tured on cam­era.

This lovely wed­ding por­trait was sent for anal­y­sis by Catharine Dick­ens, who lives in Sur­rey. Catharine bought the cab­i­net por­trait at a flea mar­ket, be­cause she found it so ap­peal­ing. Does it tell us any­thing about the cou­ple or the oc­ca­sion?


Our groom is im­pec­ca­bly dressed for the oc­ca­sion, wear­ing a dark, dou­ble-breasted frock coat, faced with silk. It is teamed with striped trousers, a dark waist­coat, light tie, and starched, high-stand­ing col­lar. He car­ries his leather gloves and a silk top hat, the ‘cor­rect’ ac­com­pa­ni­ment for his frock coat. By the Ed­war­dian pe­riod, frock coats were as­so­ci­ated with the up­per, mid­dle and pro­fes­sional classes and were con­sid­ered cor­rect wear at wed­dings - for those who could af­ford them. It’s in­ter­est­ing to note that he sports a but­ton­hole, but the bride’s bou­quet does not fea­ture in the por­trait, pos­si­bly be­cause it would hide the de­tail of the dress.


This pose, where both bride and groom are por­trayed full length with her arm in his, is rel­a­tively com­mon in mar­riage por­traits, and best re­veals the de­tail of the bride’s dress. How­ever, its full sig­nif­i­cance is lost if we do not un­der­stand the mes­sage it con­veyed to a con­tem­po­rary au­di­ence. Ac­cord­ing to an eti­quette book of the Vic­to­rian pe­riod: ‘A mar­ried lady usu­ally leans upon the arm of her hus­band… Sin­gle ladies do not in the day time take the arm of a gen­tle­man, un­less they wish to ac­knowl­edge their en­gage­ment.’


Ac­cord­ing to www.pho­tolon­, the Charles Tre­ble stu­dio was lo­cated at 270 Laven­der Hill, Bat­tersea, from 1895 to 1909. This data­base re­veals that Tre­ble (1857-1932) listed his oc­cu­pa­tion as an artist in the 1881 cen­sus and joined the Pho­to­graphic So­ci­ety in 1892 (this be­came the Royal Pho­to­graphic So­ci­ety in 1894). Tre­ble’s artis­tic am­bi­tion is demon­strated by send­ing work to ex­hi­bi­tions and ev­i­denced in this por­trait by the sim­ple ele­gance of the pose and the choice of a sketchy, frothy, back­drop to com­ple­ment the frilly, del­i­cate in­tri­cacy of the bride’s out­fit.


The tra­di­tion of a white wed­ding dress de­vel­oped only grad­u­ally over the course of the 19th cen­tury, with royal brides set­ting the pat­tern. In­creas­ing num­bers of brides wore white from the 1880s, and by 1900, white was be­com­ing es­tab­lished as the ac­cepted colour for wed­ding dresses by all classes. Although ma­te­rial and trim­mings may have been of higher qual­ity, Vic­to­rian and Ed­war­dian wed­ding dresses fol­lowed the pre­vail­ing fash­ions of the day, as we see in this charm­ing Ed­war­dian con­fec­tion. In place of veils, Ed­war­dian brides fre­quently opted to wear an ex­u­ber­ant, wide­brimmed hat lav­ishly adorned with rib­bons, lace, and feath­ers that also fol­lowed the fash­ion of the day. This dress, be­cause it was so fash­ion­able, would prob­a­bly be worn af­ter the wed­ding as Sun­day best and for spe­cial oc­ca­sions.

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