Who Do You Think You Are?
Can you tell me the date of this photo?
QI live in the Netherlands. Last year my grandfather passed away at the age of 103, and left us a lot of old pictures, including this one. Could you help me to date it? The photographer is Adolf Héron, who had shops in Rotterdam, France and Belgium. Nathalie Schouten
APortrait photography advanced along similar lines throughout the developed world. Relatively few households owned personal cameras until at least the start of the First World War; therefore most family pictures originating in the 1800s and early 1900s are professional studio portraits, the work of commercial photographers across the globe. Many are card-mounted prints like this example, which apparently represents a universally recognised format: a carte de visite
(CDV) or larger cabinet portrait. The cream colour of the card and font style are typical of the years around 1900 and information readily available online for Adolf Héron states that his Rotterdam studio operated c1894– 1935 ( rkd.nl/nl/explore/artists/424960).
Our ancestors generally wore their finest, most fashionable or appropriate attire for special photographs, their appearance usually providing a realistic timeframe, particularly female styles. This lady’s formal tailored costume – comprising skirt, bodice and short jacket, complemented by a matronly bonnet – is dateable to c1896–1902. The man’s outfit cannot be pinpointed precisely, but his knee-length coat, semi-formal felt trilby or fedora hat and long knotted tie support this turn-of-the-century date.
In addition, the couple in the photograph look to be aged approximately in their 50s, but age can be hard to gauge accurately. They could well represent a married couple, although you might consider siblings or even an elderly mother and her middle-aged son.