When was this group pho­to­graph taken?

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - QUESTIONS & ANSWERS -

QWould it be pos­si­ble to date this pho­to­graph? It was given to me by a dis­tant rel­a­tive and shows my great grand­mother’s fam­ily.

Due to their ages I think it could have been taken dur­ing the early 1900s, but I’m not too sure. Emma Hornby

AThis is a for­mal out­door pho­to­graph by a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher – a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from a lo­cal stu­dio vis­it­ing a fam­ily at home. From the late-1800s this be­came in­creas­ingly com­mon, par­tic­u­larly with large groups in­clud­ing in­fants or the in­firm who may not have wanted to travel to a stu­dio.

Like other ex­tended group scenes from the end of the Vic­to­rian pe­riod, it por­trays two or per­haps three gen­er­a­tions of the same fam­ily. As the vis­ual com­po­si­tion fol­lows age, height and gen­der, pre­cise re­la­tion­ships be­tween the sit­ters are slightly un­clear.

How­ever, our an­ces­tors dressed ac­cord­ing to age, and this can be en­light­en­ing. For in­stance, the cen­tre-left lady wear­ing a sober black gown with ma­tronly bon­net is the old­est group mem­ber – so per­haps a grand­mother fig­ure or an aunt.

The or­nately dressed lady in the cen­tre is the mother of the baby and most or all of the other chil­dren. The young woman next to her could be her daugh­ter, sis­ter or niece.

Large fam­ily group photographs of­ten com­mem­o­rated a mile­stone wed­ding an­niver­sary, so per­haps the par­ents – cen­tre and back row cen­tre-right – were mark­ing their Sil­ver (25th) An­niver­sary. This may help iden­tify a date. Jayne Shrimp­ton

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