Can you tell me more about this mys­tery pho­to­graph and why it was taken?

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - Q&A -

This pho­to­graph is some­thing of a mys­tery. The cou­ple in the cen­tre are my an­ces­tor Jane (born 1854) and her hus­band Charles (born 1853) and the man on the end is Jane’s son Harry (born 1876). His wife, Alice, is seated on the far left and his daugh­ters, Mary (born 1899) and Edith (born 1901), stand be­tween them. I think the pho­to­graph dates from 1909. Charles was a fore­man porter, so the room seems far too grand to be their home. Can you tell me why it was taken and why the women on ei­ther end are in match­ing out­fits? Veron­ica Mad­docks, Canada

AThis is a great fam­ily group pho­to­graph, the older cou­ple at the cen­tre, pre­sum­ably sur­rounded by their chil­dren, grand­chil­dren and ex­tended mem­bers of their fam­ily. It was prob­a­bly taken in a pho­tog­ra­pher’s stu­dio. Painted back­drops with sim­i­lar leaded win­dows and drapes can be seen in other stu­dio pho­to­graphs, and the sym­me­try of the two young women wear­ing sim­i­lar, but not match­ing, dark dresses at ei­ther end sug­gests that the pho­to­graph was set up by a pro­fes­sional. On the ev­i­dence from the dress, I would sug­gest a date slightly later than 1909, prob­a­bly around 1912-13, cer­tainly pre-First World War. If you have the date of Charles and Jane’s mar­riage it could be worth check­ing to see if the pho­to­graph might fit with be­ing a 40th wed­ding an­niver­sary com­mem­o­ra­tion. Such an­niver­saries be­came in­creas­ingly cel­e­brated from the late-Vic­to­rian pe­riod on­wards. Ali­son To­plis

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