Category Archives: Photography

The New Art of the Photo Sketch: 1901

photo sketch

What Can Be Done with a Brush and a Camera

PHOTO SKETCH THE LATEST.

Society’s newest fad is the photo sketch—so it has been named by its originator. The photo sketch is the latest, most novel development of artistic photography. It can scarcely be called a photograph. It is rather a portrait made by a combination of the camera and the brush.

The woman who sits for her photo sketch obtains an absolute likeness of herself. And yet she beholds herself not as she is, but as she longs to be. All the idealism of the artist has been blended with the matter of fact lens. She may pose in the plainest of gowns, yet in the photo sketch appear in the most bewitching of costumes.

In the photo sketch a platinum print is made of the head of the subject from the negative. So far it is photography pure and simple. The likeness is absolute.

photo sketch3

Then the brush of the artist comes into play. With it he fashions for my lady the gown she most desires, or in which his taste and judgment tell him she will appear to most advantage. With it he gives her the figure she would have had had nature been most kind. Sometimes he may sketch from life, in order the better to catch the personality of his subject, or when my lady has a gown in which she particularly desires to be seen. More often she simply describes one which suits her taste or leaves the matter entirely to the artist’s fancy.

The figure is generally purely ideal. Always it is idealized. And yet the likeness is unmistakable. No one can deny it is my lady’s portrait.

photo sketch 2

The woman with a perfect figure is seldom found in nature. For such a one, however, the negative is reproduced in full, and sufficient outline of the body is left to guide the artist. All undesired parts of the photograph are faded from the print before the brush work begins, so that no shadow of the portrait appears beneath it. This is accomplished by a mechanical process known only to its discoverer. What it is the earnest amateur may find out by experiment. It is a nut he must crack before he may become a photo-sketcher.

Not a photographer in a hundred could become one even then. He must also be an artist and a master of his art. The platinum prints are easy of production.

The drawing is the important and difficult part of this new departure in photography. It is never reproduced. Its beautiful, sketchy effect would be lost in the process. Every copy must be done by hand and each, except in the face, may be entirely different from the others. The beautiful photo sketches reproduced on this page are the work of Marion of New York.

The Sunday Call [San Francisco CA] 7 July 1901 p. 5

In regard to beauty, a photograph tells nothing beyond form and face. A photographer, explaining a lady’s antipathy to the camera, said to a World man: “Her features are not regular, and she takes a bad pictures. Her beauty rests in her deep liquid eyes, coral lips, rich auburn hair and lovely complexion—qualities precisely which a camera cannot reflect. On the other hand, a woman of dull eyes and of hair may make a capital photograph if she have a straight nose and a tolerably good outline of features.

Nemaha County Republican [Sabetha KS] 4 October 1890: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  One might call this novelty a species of “fancy-dress,” with the dress being supplied in the fancy of the artist. The practice continues to this day, of course, in the form of “photo-shopping,” which may erase inches and imperfections from the figure, may splice heads onto bodies for the purposes of blackmail, or may add animal noses and ears to the subject, which, to be perfectly frank, are often an improvement.

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

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Wanted: A Wife: 1871

woman wearing flower wreath

WANTED— A WIFE.

BY S. ANNIE FROST.

“I wonder,” said pretty Lizzie Thorndyke, looking up from a newspaper, whose columns had held her attention for nearly half an hour, “I wonder if any of these matrimonial advertisements are ever put in the papers in good faith? Here are no less than five, commencing, ‘Wanted— a wife.”‘

“I should think,” responded Anna Green, cousin to Lizzie, “that if a man wanted a wife very badly, his best plan was to go court one. There are plenty of nice girls to be won.”

“Just fancy advertising for a husband, Anna.”

“Can’t. My imagination cannot compass such an absurdity. But what makes you so interested to-day? I’m sure that trash has been in the papers for years.”

“Why, three of these enterprising gentlemen are modest enough to ask for photographs, and I was thinking it would be fun to send some of those in the box Bob left up stairs.”

“What box?”

“Have you never seen it? You know Bob learned to photograph just before he left for California, to be able to take views of scenery. He took lessons of the foreman at Wright & Hill’s, who were burnt out just before Bob left. Bob was at the fire, trying to save all he could, and amongst other things he rescued a box of pictures that they told him to keep. There is the greatest mix of stuff in it— copies of pictures and statues, groups, heads, and quite a lot of pretty faces.”

“But we might send some picture of a person who would get into trouble by it.”

“Oh, no! I wouldn’t send anything but a fancy head; there are plenty of those. I’ll get the box and let you see them.”

The box proved to be a treasure for passing time. It was quite large and well filled, and the two girls found the morning slipping away rapidly as they examined the contents. Suddenly Anna gave a cry of admiration.

“What an exquisite face!”

“That is one of the fancy heads,” said Lizzie, taking the picture from her cousin’s hand.

“Are you certain, Lizzie? It is very lifelike.”

“But very fanciful, Anna. Nobody in these days sits for a photograph with a wreath of field daisies and green leaves round their head, and who ever saw such hair? Why, there is enough to start a chignon factory in flourishing business.”

Anna looked again at the picture. It certainly was fanciful enough to justify Lizzie’s assertion, although the face had an animated expression rarely attained by the pencil. There was only the head set in a framework of clouds, the dimpled shoulders rising from the fleecy clusters, and the sweet face encircled by them. The regular features, exquisite mouth, and large, soft eyes were framed in masses of heavy curls, just caught from the low brow and little ears by a wreath of field daisies, grasses, and leaves.

“It is a lovely, lovely face, Lizzie, is it not?”

“Yes. I think,” said Lizzie, musingly, “that I will send this to Mr. Edgar Holmes; ain’t that the name? Yes,” she added, after a reference to the paper. “Mr. Edgar Holmes, Box No. 47, Waterford, Illinois. Illinois is a good ways from Hilton, Massachusetts, Anna, so I guess he will not come to look for the original very soon. There! how does that look?” and she tossed the picture to her cousin, having written on the margin, “Ever yours, with love, Ida.”

“But, Lizzie, suppose, after all, this should be a real portrait?”

“Nonsense! We certainly know everybody in Hilton.”

“I don’t half like it, Lizzie.”

“Oh, pshaw! You are always fussy. I mean to get some answers from Mr. Edgar Holmes & Co. It will be real fun. Here is one from California and one from New York; pick out two more pictures. O Anna, here is that hateful old maid, Matilda Truefit. I have half a mind to send her.”

“No, I won’t let you, Lizzie. Send only fancy heads.”

“Well, just as you say. Now for the letters. See how nicely I can disguise my hand,” and she wrote a few lines in a stiff, angular hand as legible and almost as unrecognizable as print.

“Anybody can see that it is a disguised hand.”

“Of course they can; but that’s of no consequence. I shall only write a few lines at first, professing deep interest and a desire for further acquaintance. You are as grave as a deacon, Anna.”

“Because it seems to me foolish, a waste of time, to say the best of it, and it may get you into trouble, Lizzie.”

“I’m not afraid. It is all for fun. I shall sign them all ‘Ida,’ and have the answers directed to the same name.”

An hour passed away, almost in silence. Lizzie wrote three letters of the character she had described, while Anna pondered over the pictures, read the newspaper which had inspired her cousin with the new piece of mischief, and perused the letters as they were finished and tossed over to her for criticism.

There were not two prettier girls in Hilton than these cousins— one a resident of the village from her birth, the other a regular visitor for the summer months. Lizzie Thorndyke was a brown-eyed, dark-haired beauty, with a short, plump figure, fair complexion, a tongue that was the terror of every dull-witted youth in the village, and a love of mischief and excitement that made her the leader in every picnic, festival, and frolic for miles around. Anna, a tall, slender blonde, was more quiet and reserved, a resident of Boston, fond of music and literature, but yet ready to enjoy heartily all the pleasures offered during a visit to Hilton in the summer months. Twice her father had taken herself and Lizzie for a trip to Niagara, the lakes, and the White Mountains; but generally Anna spent the summer in Hilton, and Lizzie a portion of each winter in Boston. Many a heedless prank originating in Lizzie’s busy brain Anna had checked in time to prevent mischief and confusion, while her own graver nature was cheered and made happier by intercourse with her lively little cousin. She sat, now, rather soberly perusing Lizzie’s daring epistles, very doubtful of the results of sending them away, yet not trusting her own powers of persuasion to prevent a freak which she saw had taken strong hold of her cousin’s imagination. The letters were all sealed and directed at last, and depositing them in the post-office being postponed for an afternoon walk. Lizzie yawned, declared she was tired to death, and threw herself upon the sofa for a nap, while Anna took up an intricate piece of knitting to pass the time before dinner. One of the letters only is of interest to our readers, and that we will follow to its destination. It was directed to “Mr. Edgar Holmes, Waterford, Illinois,” and contained the beautiful photograph of the girl crowned with field daisies. Lying upon the table, in a neatly-furnished lawyer’s office, half-hidden by a number of other epistles, it was there found by two young gentlemen, who came in chatting and laughing soon after the office-boy had brought the mail from the post-office.

“More answers to my matrimonial advertisement, Al,” said one of the gentlemen, a handsome, bright-eyed young fellow, whose sunny face spoke of a life free from care, and formed, quite a contrast to that of his companion, who was evidently an earnest man, a deep thinker, and of a grave, rather reserved nature.

“How can you tell before opening them?” he inquired, courteously, but evidently feeling no interest in the matter.

“Oh! they are so daintily enveloped and directed, and I can feel the photograph cards.”

As he spoke he was rapidly breaking open his batch of letters, whilst his companion scanned the columns of a morning paper. Suddenly a cry broke from the lips of the younger man.

“What an exquisite face! It cannot be a portrait, but it is lovely. Direct ‘Ida, Hilton, Massachusetts.’ Look at it, Al.”

Albert Clayton languidly stretched out his hand for the card, but the instant his eyes fell upon the picture the whole expression of his face changed. In the place of the look of indifference, there now flashed from his eyes a look, first of utter surprise, then bitter anger, and finally a contempt that was the strongest of all. Once he turned the card to see the name of the artist, and then slowly there gathered upon his brow and round his lip a set, determined look that it was painful to see.

“Why, Al, what ails you?” suddenly cried his friend. “One would think Miss Ida’s was a gorgon’s head.” The forced smile of answer would never have deceived a keener observer, but Edgar Holmes was satisfied with it.

“Let me see the letter, Ned?”

“Certainly. You can be reading it while I am in court. Shall I find you here when I return?”

“Yes. I shall wait for you, for I must leave this evening, you know, for home.”

“I know. I shall miss you constantly. Well, good-morning!”

Left alone, Albert Clayton, after reading the letter signed “Ida,” drew from his vest pocket a card-case, and from its folds a photograph, an exact copy of the daisy-crowned beauty. Well remembered he the day when the lovely face had been so crowned. The original of the picture was his promised wife, into whose keeping he had put the whole treasure of his love, to whom he had given a heart, which, sorely tried by suffering, had never before bowed before the charms of a woman. Educated in a different school, Albert Clayton might have been a trusting, frank nature, but he had been trained from childhood to suspect and question all around him. He had worshipped his parents, and his father, a wealthy Western lawyer, had given him love for love. When that father died, he was a boy at school, and returned for a summer vacation less than two years from the time he was left fatherless to find his mother again married, and to a man whom he had every reason to believe unworthy of any good woman’s affection. Too fully were all his fears for the future realized. His own share of his father’s property was squandered by the new guardian before he was of an age to claim it; his mother, oppressed and ill-treated, died broken-hearted; and his only sister, driven to desperation, eloped with a young scamp, attracted to her by her father’s wealth.

Orphaned and almost penniless before he was quite twenty-one, Albert was offered a home and an opportunity to continue the study of law by his father’s partner, continuing with him long after he knew that he was a mere drudge, half-paid for services his own intellect and hard study soon made valuable to his employer. The practice of his profession was not calculated to increase the young lawyer’s faith in mankind; and when, at the age of thirty, he opened an office of his own in Cincinnati, he had acquired a reputation as a shrewd, long-headed lawyer, impossible to cheat, but a hard, reserved man, devoid of affection for any one. This was the man who, coming one summer to Hilton to investigate a law case in his care, met there Sadie Elkington, the niece of his client, paying a summer visit to her aunt. Something in the pure, sweet face of the young girl, just stepping into womanhood, attracted first the world-hardened man. Watching her jealously, he found a nature open and frank, yet modest, full of all womanly grace and sweetness, and the closed portals of his heart opened, at last, to fold in a close embrace this true woman, who, in winning his love, all unconsciously had given him her own.

It was pronounced rather a dull summer at Hilton. Many of the young people were away, the cousins Lizzie Thorndyke and Anna Green were at Niagara, and picnics, drives, and dances were “few and far between.” But the month occupied by Albert Clayton in the investigation of old Mrs. Elkington’s papers flew by on gilded wings; and when he returned to Cincinnati, Sadie to her father’s home in Boston, it was with mutual promises of constancy, and bright hopes for the future.

Well did Albert Clayton remember the day when the lovely photograph was taken at his request. They had been for a long ramble in the fields, and he had crowned her with daisies, making her so beautiful in his loving eyes that he would not rest until she consented to allow him to carry away the picture of her face as he had adorned it. One year of betrothal, and the wedding day was set for a certain seventh of October, when, again absent from home on a professional visit, Albert found the face of the woman he had loved almost to idolatry inclosed in a letter answering a matrimonial advertisement.

It is impossible to describe the shock given to the fastidious, suspicious nature of this man. He had given, for the first time in many years, the confidence of his heart to another’s keeping. He had thrown aside the suspicions of all human nature, that had warped his own character, to give a trusting, perfect love to one woman. In her he had found all that his starved heart craved of gentleness, affection, and modesty. All her letters were filled with a spirit of devotion, toned down by a sweet, maidenly reserve, that had commanded his respect as well as his affection. Loving faithfully, trusting utterly, he had looked forward to his future happiness as a thing assured and certain.

And now, to find this woman, his promised wife, his ideal of modest refinement, answering a vulgar matrimonial advertisement, sending the picture, for which he had been forced to plead and petition for hours, to be the sport of an unknown man, writing a letter that was an invitation for future correspondence, and covering all only by the flimsy veil of a disguised hand, and a post-office address a few miles from home. Some friend in Hilton, probably, mailed this precious letter, and would call for the answer. Well, his dream was over. He brooded for a long time over his duplicate pictures, then, tossing one back upon young Holmes’ pile of letters, he inclosed the one he had carried over his heart for a twelve-month in a short letter, directed and sealed it, and, taking up his hat, left the office. His return to Cincinnati the same evening had been settled before the receipt of the momentous letter, so his friend was prepared for his departure, though scarcely for his abrupt and hasty farewell.

And while strangers and her dearest were thus ruthlessly destroying Sadie Elkington’s love dream and hopes of happiness, she was living her life of peaceful daily duty, making the sunshine of home, and looking forward to a future of married bliss. Already there were piles of snowy linen, daintily embroidered by her own skilful fingers, lying in readiness for the trousseau , and daily some such needlework passed through her busy hands, while she sat and dreamed of Albert, his love, and her own powers of rendering him happy. It was a very pure, unselfish love this fair young girl had given to her betrothed. With quick, womanly instinct she had read the character of the reserved suspicious man, penetrated the crust of his proud reticence, and knew that her love was to him almost his sole hopes of faith in any human excellence. She knew also, that from this hard mistrust and cynicism, it was often but one step to positive infidelity, and it was her earnest prayer that she might be permitted so to soften this noble heart as to let in upon it a fuller light and higher faith than it could ever know whilst clouded by doubts of all mankind. Sadie Elkington would have smiled had any one suggested to her that there was any sacrifice in her prospects for the future. She loved Albert Clayton with all the fervor of a first love, and it had never occurred to her to contrast her own home with the one awaiting her. The eldest of a family of nine children, she had learned early to make all the little sacrifices of her own comfort daily required from the oldest sister in a large family. Her father almost worshipped her, while her mother could scarcely endure the prospect of seeing this loving, tender daughter leave the home she had brightened so long, for one so far away. Yet hiding away their own grief, the loving parents were aiding in the preparation of a bridal outfit that was to be as perfect as ample means, taste, and loving care could make it. The mother and daughter were in the sitting-room just before the dinner hour, discussing the merits of a new collar pattern, when Mr. Elkington came to the door, holding a bundle in one hand, a letter in the other.

“There, Miss Sadie,” he said, opening the paper to unroll a piece of superb blue silk, “see if you can get a petticoat out of that. Mamma, there, will lend you some old cotton lace to trim it.”

“Not a yard,” laughed his wife. “Why, you extravagant man, this is the third Irish poplin.”

“Fully paid for by the kisses Sadie has just given me. What are you gazing at this letter for, Sadie? Women are never satisfied. Give them finery and they want flattery. Well, there is your sugar plum.”

“Sadie! Sadie!”

It was a startled cry from the mother that broke the interval of silence following the opening of the letter. The young girl tried to answer the cry, but the stiff white lips were powerless to move, and with a moan of pain she fainted, falling heavily upon the dress just received with warm, shy blushes, and representing so much thoughtful love.

Mr. Elkington took up the letter which had fallen from the nerveless hand, and while his wife was trying to restore life to the insensible girl, he was seeking the cause of her sudden fall.

“Sadie’s picture! Valueless when shared with others! Trusts her new love may prove more agreeable than the old! Shocked at her want of maidenly modesty! What does the fellow mean, mother? How dare he insult our Sadie by such a letter. Useless to answer, as he intends to leave Cincinnati at once. Well for him! He had better get beyond the reach of my horsewhip, for my arm is not yet too weak to thrash the scoundrel!”

“Hush, father; she is recovering,” said Mrs. Elkington, interrupting the passionate exclamations and bitter readings from the letter.

Sadie was, indeed, reviving, and trying to realize her own position.

“Father,” she said, as her father came to her with the fatal letter still in his hand, “what does he mean? How can he write so cruelly to me?”

“He is a rascal!” said the angry old gentleman; “a scoundrel! He has found some newer face to flatter, and tries to make you to blame for his inconstancy. Why, the letter is perfectly absurd upon the face of it. Accusing you of having another love, and giving your photograph to some one else! You, who have lived like a nun ever since Sir Jealousy condescended to bestow his regards upon you! You, who are such a model of reserve and devotion, that your own old father has been jealous fifty times of your fiancé, to be accused of a want of maidenly modesty! I should like to wring the fellow’s neck.”

“There is some terrible mistake, father.”

“Mistake! I should think there was a mistake! There was a mistake when we all believed him an honorable, upright gentleman, if he was a grumpy, sulky companion; and a grand mistake when we believed him capable of appreciating our Sadie, and making her an affectionate husband.”

“But, father, I am sure he has been deceived in some way.”

He deceived! I think it is we who have been deceived! Well, there, don’t look at me so pitifully. I won’t rave any more. Here, mother, you talk to her.” And, conscious of his own inability to talk quietly, the angry, insulted father went off to the library to march up and down, and work off his wrath in solitude. Poor Sadie! It was in vain she read the cruel letter over and over to try to find some solution of the mystery. She could not accept her father’s theory of Albert’s voluntary renunciation of her love. Some influence had been at work upon his jealous, suspicious nature, she felt convinced, though what it was, she could not divine. It was a hard blow, and her cross seemed almost too heavy to carry, but she put out of sight the pretty clothing collected with so much care, and full of such loving associations, locked up the letters that she had welcomed so eagerly, responded to so faithfully, and bravely crushing her own sorrow out of sight, was always the loving child, the devoted sister to the home circle, fully appreciating the tender care her mother bestowed upon her, and the delicacy which kept back all her father’s expressions of anger. She was not one to parade her grief or bare her heart for any eye, and the effort to appear calm and cheerful was rewarded by a real feeling of resignation. She had done no wrong, and perhaps at some future time Albert might learn how truly and faithfully she had loved him; in the mean time she would try to find happiness in her home, her parents’ love, and her friends’ society. A very dull commonplace view of the matter, perhaps, but one that required more real unselfish heroism than many an act admired by the world. Four years passed away with many changes, and Albert Clayton returned from a prolonged European trip to Cincinnati, and again opened an office for the practice of law. Amongst the many friends who came to offer him a word of welcome, he was surprised one morning to receive a call from Edgar Holmes.

“When I heard you had left Cincinnati, Al, I thought I would come for a while, and see if some of your clients would not fancy me for a substitute.”

“I hope you have done well!” said Albert, politely.

“Oh, yes, pretty well. You must drop in when you are passing and see how the old office looks. By the way, you know I am a married man, don’t you?”

“No, indeed! Did you marry Miss Elkington?”

The name seemed almost to choke him, spoken for the first time in four long years.

“Miss Elkington? Never heard of her in my life. What put that into your head?”

“I— was she not the lady who answered your advertisement for a wife?”

“O Al, I must tell you all about that. Can you listen to a long story?”

“Yes.”

“Well, about two years ago, I had business which called me to Boston, and amongst other gentlemen friends there, was one Mr. Green, who made me welcome to a very pleasant home, and introduced me to a pretty daughter and an equally pretty niece, Miss Lizzie Thorndyke, of Hilton, Mass. Miss Lizzie was in Boston purchasing her bridal finery, being engaged to a young gentleman from New York. It was not long before I noticed that the young lady avoided me as much as possible, seeming half afraid of me when thrown into my company. My business was soon transacted, but my heart was yielding to the charms of Anna Green, and I lingered in the city, trying to win an answering affection. I succeeded, and won the father’s consent to my suit. The day was set for a double wedding, the cousins wishing to be married at the same time. You look bored, Al!”

“Oh no, go on,” said Albert, who certainly did look bored.

“Well, to make a long story short, Lizzie’s fiancé, Mr. Moreton, came on from New York, preparations were going on for the wedding, and everything was pleasant, when one evening we were all seated in the parlor chatting. Amongst other subjects, the one of matrimonial advertisements came up. I saw that Lizzie looked distressed, but suspecting nothing, I laughed about my correspondent Ida, and read two or three of her last letters— warm enough they were, too— for the benefit of the party. Mr. Moreton expressed his opinion on the indelicacy of such a correspondence in no measured terms, finally declaring that he would disown his own sister if she was guilty of such a proceeding. Fancy our amazement when Lizzie, as white as ashes, started to her feet, crying out:—

“‘O Robert, don’t, don’t say so! I am Ida!’ and fell in a dead faint upon the floor.”

“But the picture?” said Albert Clayton, himself as pale as a corpse .

“That was a fancy head her brother picked up in some photograph gallery in Hilton. Are you going to faint, Al?”

“No, no,” he said, rousing himself by a great effort; “finish your story.” “There is not much more to tell. Robert, touched by Lizzie’s distress, and influenced by Anna’s entreaties, forgave her, but there came into his manner a reserve and coolness of which he, himself, I think, was unconscious, but which grated terribly on Lizzie’s sensitive, high strung spirit. For a week or two there was a sort of enforced peace, and then the engagement was broken by mutual consent, Lizzie returning to Hilton, and Mr. Moreton to New York, before the wedding day which gave me the dearest wife in the world. I was half afraid I should lose her for my share in the correspondence, but she never referred to it, and you may be sure I did not. Ten o’clock! I must go. You will come soon to see us, Al? No.— Fourth Street.”

He was gone at last. For hours Albert Clayton paced his office floor, now and then sighing out:—

“O Sadie, Sadie, can you ever forgive me?”

Then he sat down to write to her whom he had so cruelly misjudged; but letter after letter was tossed into the fire, till, finally, giving up that task, he packed a valise and started for Boston. It was not Sadie’s nature to be unforgiving when he pleaded for pardon. He should have known her better, she thought, but she made all allowance for the strong evidence against her. It was not so easy to win the old gentleman over; he growled and scolded, made sarcastic speeches, and was altogether most impenetrable, till Sadie’s pleading face and great pitiful eyes silenced him.

“You really think you can forgive him, and trust your happiness to him?” he asked.

“Yes, father,” was the quiet answer, but the expressive face lighted with pleasure.

“Well, get out your finery again, and I —”

“Will go buy more Irish poplins,” laughed his wife.

Nobody ever knew exactly how the story got to Hilton, but Lizzie— still Miss Thorndyke— found all eyes would turn upon her if, in company, any allusion was made to the advertisements headed, “Wanted, a Wife.”

Godey’s Lady’s Book [Philadelphia, PA] March 1871

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Strong evidence? Indeed, no matter how fastidious and suspicious his nature, the lover should have known her better and any lawyer worth his fee should have thought her innocent until proven guilty.  At the very least, he should have given her the chance to look at the “evidence” and refute it. Why did he not call upon a graphology expert? And even at this early date, fingerprints could have been revealed by iodine fumes and compared with Miss Elkington’s. One wonders how accomplished a lawyer Clayton actually was. He seems to have lacked the ability to examine the case against his beloved in a scrupulously fair manner, yet possessed the imagination of a fiend when it came to believing her guilty. Mrs Daffodil hopes that they lived happily ever after and that he devoted his life to making amends for his vile suspicions, but is not sanguine.

Mrs Daffodil has written before about the imprudence of the promiscuous sending of photographs.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales

 

The Pet Photographer: 1908

Bulldogs portraits The New Book of the Dog 1911

FROM BABIES TO PETS

A Western Young Woman Who Switched Specialties.

PICTURES OF CATS AND DOGS

Devoted Her Time and Talents to Babies in the West, but Found None to Photograph in New York—Then She Discovered that Pets Belonged in Flat Houses and Acted Accordingly.

From the New York Sun.

“Private photographer, specialty, dogs and cats,” is the reading on the professional card of a prosperous young business woman who makes her home in a well-kept apartment house on Riverside Drive. Having read and duly pondered the statement a reporter asked the young woman to talk about her specialty.

To begin with, I used to make a specialty of children–little babies. There are so many more children in the West than here in New York! You know, I’m from the West,” the young woman went on.  “When I first came to New York I almost starved to death the first six months. It took me just that long to catch on.

“You see, I brought the idea of making a specialty of children with me to a place where there are no children. That is, none that people care about having photographed.

“It worried me to death at first. I couldn’t make out what was wrong. Then I began to realize that instead of wealthy and well-to-do people having children, as in the West, they all had either cats or dogs.  I had a set of new cards printed and set out.

Photographs in Great Demand

“I didn’t have a bit of trouble. It was all plain sailing. Everybody wanted her cat or her dog photographed, just as in the West everybody had wanted her babies’ pictures taken.

“In less than three months after I made this discovery I had every minute of my time engaged weeks ahead, and moved from the boarding house where I had found it difficult to make both ends meet with ‘specialty, children’ to a charming apartment of my own, with money to put in the bank.

“Cats are much more easily photographed than dogs for the simple reason that they are not so restless, have fewer eccentricities, or less individuality. I have known cats intimately all my life and have only found two varieties, so far as dispositions are concerned, the amiable cat and the spiteful cat.

“As for the intellectual cat and the stupid cat, they exist only in the fond imagination of their owners, so far as have been able to see.  Every cat that I am called on to photograph, to listen to its owner, is a marvel of intelligence. When I come to make their acquaintance, it is the same old thing, either spit or purr.

“Photographing a cat of the purr variety is the simplest thing imaginable. A few gentle strokes and it will remain in any position you place it; hold a bright colored object or a bit of food over its head and it will become animated at once; put an electric mouse or bird on floor and it will crouch and make ready for a spring.  If my subject is of the spitfire variety I follow the rule of contraries.

The Indifference of Cats

“Of all the cats that I have known I don’t believe six of them care for persons, only for places. In spite of this all too evident indifference, the owners of cats are as a rule attached to them. One cat whose photograph I have made every month since I have been in the business is the most indifferent little piece of flesh and blood that I have ever seen, yet its mistress, a wealthy unmarried woman, is as devoted to it as she or any other woman could be to a child.

“Blood? No, indeed, this little cat hasn’t even the slightest claims to blood. She was a regular little guttersnipe when I was first called in to take her picture.

“The lady had picked her up in the street only two days before. The little thing had been hungry and as the lady stepped from her carriage she whined and looked up in her face. I believe she even rubbed against her skirt.

“This was taken as a great evidence of intelligence, as the lady was especially fond of cats. Being without a pet just at that time the kitten was brought into the house and fed. She found her way into the parlor and there she has been ever since.

“At the present time she sleeps in a white enameled crib beside the bed of her mistress and has four carriages and a maid especially engaged to wheel her in Central Park. As for cushions and cloaks they are almost without number, and all of the finest and daintiest material.

“The owner of this cat considers it the greatest compliment that she can pay a person is to give him a set of photographs of this little white and black pussy. She is an attractive looking little animal, because she is clean, healthy, and well fed, but as for intelligence–well she is just the common purring variety of cat, and that is all there is to her.

Gives Her Cat Jewels

“There is another woman who calls on me quite frequently to photograph her pet and who elects to give her cat jewels. She is married and requires her husband to duplicate every present of jewelry intended for herself for her cat.

“This particular cat is one of the near intelligent cats that I have met. She really appears to be proud of her bracelets and necklaces. She not only seems to take pains to lie in such a position as to show her ornaments to the best advantage, but will often annoy a visitor until particular attention has been taken of them.

“Yet I have seen that cat take as much pride in a bright ribbon bow, strutting before the mirror to admire herself and scratching my skirt until I expressed my approval, so I cannot believe what the cat’s mistress affirms, that the cat knows an imitation stone from a real one.  If a person told me that a dog could tell the difference between real and imitation, I might be tempted to believe it, but a cat–I haven’t imagination enough for that.

“To get a good photograph of an intelligent dog one has first to know a little of the dog. A dog often has as much individuality as a human being.

“I have known owners and dogs as thoroughly mismatched as some parents and children, and yet there would be a certain attachment between them. Neither would understand the other and the result would be a sort of general irritation on the part of the dog.

Cases of Cross Dogs.

“Whenever the owner of a dog reports that it is an irritable animal I get the owner out of sight when taking the dogs photograph. I have never seen a case in which a healthy dog was cross or generally irritable that the surroundings were not to blame.

“Some dogs because of their training prefer indoors, and I have taken many very good photographs of dogs in the house, but, as a rule, I prefer to take my dogs out of doors. The dog’s individuality shows to much greater advantage as a rule out of doors.

“Of course, for dog photography one must depend almost entirely on snapshots. Dogs are too restless, and, like children, their expressions come in flashes.

“Another point about dogs is that, as a rule, they prefer to be taken with children, even where they are not accustomed to children. Whenever I have a dog particularly hard to take I take him to where there are children, get the kiddies interested in having their own pictures taken and in a little while the dog is in the humor and I get him at his best.

“Of course I find a good many freaks among the owners of my dogs but nothing like the same proportion as among those who have pet cats One of the greatest extravagances that have come to my knowledge was that of a well-to-do physician.

“He is middle aged and unmarried, but to all appearances a sensible enough person; yet when his dog died he not only went into mourning but sent cards announcing his dog’s death to all his friends. He didn’t allow the blinds of his house to be opened for weeks and I understood that he had the body of his pet shipped to his home in the Southwest for burial.

Illustrated Calendar Gifts

“Yes, the dog was a blooded animal but by no means remarkable. This man’s favorite token of his esteem to his friends was a calendar of his own making illustrated with photographs of his dog. The dog was a hideous old beast so one can easily imagine the fate of the majority of his calendars.

“Of course it is common enough for women to have their dogs dressed to correspond with their own gowns. Really when women have as much money and as little to think about as the average New York woman, I can’t see much harm in it. They might devote their time and thought to better things, that is very true, but on the other hand they might do worse.

“After one comes to understand the apartment house atmosphere it is readily understood why so many persons prefer dogs to children. Kiddies are nice and I think there are few men and women who wouldn’t prefer them if they could have homes, real homes, but not in an apartment house.

“The New York apartment house is the paradise of the pet dog, and they give me a comfortable living. I should advise any photographer wishing to make a specialty of dogs or cats to start business in a city where apartment houses abound. In the average apartment house one can count on finding at least six dogs whose owners are glad to pay for their photographs if not every month at least several times a year.”

The Washington [DC] Post 8 March 1908: p. 2

Next we hear from another photographer, who has a mixed human-pet clientele:

The artist was a heavy-eyed man; his hair was unkempt, his scarf was disarranged, and his coat-sleeves were turned up. He looked weary.

“I have just been attempting to fix a baby’s attention,” he said, in an explanatory tone, “by throwing handsprings behind the camera. When I showed the negative to the mother she made the inevitable observation that the face lacked expression. Can you put expression on the surface of a lump of damp putty?”

“Is it easier to photograph dogs than babies?”

“Oh, a thousand times. You can fix a dog’s attention and hold it for a time without difficulty. Then, dogs faces are more or less expressive. None of them has the look of stupidity that the average baby wears except the pug. Pug dogs, by the way, are the easiest to take. All you have to do is to put them in front of the camera and they go to sleep at once. The most difficult dog I ever struggled with was an Italian greyhound. It was a delicate and extremely sensitive little creature, and endowed with almost human intelligence. It couldn’t keep its shadowy legs still half a second to save its life. We worked half a day, and succeeded at length in making a picture that was half satisfactory.”

“Do you photograph many dogs?”

“About 200 a year. Though work is done by a few specialists. The big photographers won’t bother with dogs.” New York Sun.

The Daily Globe [St. Paul MN] 3 January 1884: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  One rather fears for the continuation of the species when “damp putty” is the best one can say of an infant whom popular sentiment requires to be uniformly adorable. Still, Mrs Daffodil admits—she served as a nursery maid in the early years of her career—it is a fair description of many youthful scions of even the noblest houses and expresses the unpleasant stickiness which so often accompanies childhood.

As for the ladies who dote on their pets, Mrs Daffodil suggests that, had they known the term, they would have undoubtedly been delighted to describe their animal companions as “fur-babies.”

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

She Asked for His Photograph: 1897

WHY SHE WAS GRACIOUS.

A Lover Who Easily Fell Into an Ingenious Trap.

She was particularly gracious that night, and he was correspondingly happy.  He felt that he had made an impression at last.

She let him hold her hand a minute when she welcomed him, and he thought–in fact, he was quite sure–that she responded to the gentle squeeze he gave it, and heretofore she had been so distant, so cold, although always courteous. Surely it was enough to make him feel happy. Then she laughed at his witticisms, and there was something in her manner that invited him to draw his chair closer to hers. Of course he accepted the invitation, and almost before he knew it he found himself whispering all sorts of silly things to her, while she listened with downcast eyes.

It was blissful, and yet there was a greater pleasure in store for him. She blushed and hesitated a little as she asked if he had a photograph of himself.

Of course he had, and she should have one that very night. He would go for one at once. She protested that that was not necessary, but he insisted. She should have anything that she wanted and have it at once.

She thanked him so coyly and sweetly when he brought it that the boy was nearly insane with joy, and when he left she let him hold her hand again for a minute.

Then, as he walked away with a light step and a light heart, she handed the photograph to her maid and said with decision:

“Mary, hang that in the servants’ hall, where every one can see it, and remember that I am never home when he calls. I must stop this thing somehow, and mamma changes servants so often he gets in every week or two now.”

The Copper County Evening News [Calumet MI] 19 August 1897: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  A little-known consequence of the Servant Problem…

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

The Deferred Appointment: 1911

The Deferred Appointment

Algernon Blackwood

The little “Photographic Studio” in the side-street beyond Shepherd’s Bush had done no business all day, for the light had been uninviting to even the vainest sitter, and the murky sky that foreboded snow had hung over London without a break since dawn. Pedestrians went hurrying and shivering along the pavements, disappearing into the gloom of countless ugly little houses the moment they passed beyond the glare of the big electric standards that lit the thundering motor-buses in the main street. The first flakes of snow, indeed, were already falling slowly, as though they shrank from settling in the grime. The wind moaned and sang dismally, catching the ears and lifting the shabby coat-tails of Mr. Mortimer Jenkyn, “Photographic Artist,” as he stood outside and put the shutters up with his own cold hands in despair of further trade.

It was five minutes to six. With a lingering glance at the enlarged portrait of a fat man in masonic regalia who was the pride and glory of his window-front, he fixed the last hook of the shutter, and turned to go indoors. There was developing and framing to be done upstairs, not very remunerative work, but better, at any rate, than waiting in an empty studio for customers who did not come—wasting the heat of two oil-stoves into the bargain. And it was then, in the act of closing the street-door behind him, that he saw a man standing in the shadows of the narrow passage, staring fixedly into his face.

Mr. Jenkyn admits that he jumped. The man was so very close, yet he had not seen him come in; and in the eyes was such a curiously sad and appealing expression. He had already sent his assistant home, and there was no other occupant of the little two-storey house. The man must have slipped past him from the dark street while his back was turned. Who in the world could he be, and what could he want? Was he beggar, customer, or rogue?

“Good evening,” Mr. Jenkyn said, washing his hands, but using only half the oily politeness of tone with which he favoured sitters. He was just going to add “sir,” feeling it wiser to be on the safe side, when the stranger shifted his position so that the light fell directly upon his face, and Mr. Jenkyn was aware that he—recognised him. Unless he was greatly mistaken, it was the second-hand bookseller in the main street.

“Ah, it’s you, Mr. Wilson!” he stammered, making half a question of it, as though not quite convinced. “Pardon me; I did not quite catch your face—er—I was just shutting up.” The other bowed his head in reply. “Won’t you come in? Do, please.” Mr. Jenkyn led the way. He wondered what was the matter. The visitor was not among his customers; indeed, he could hardly claim to know him, having only seen him occasionally when calling at the shop for slight purchases of paper and what not. The man, he now realised, looked fearfully ill and wasted, his face pale and haggard. It upset him rather, this sudden, abrupt call. He felt sorry, pained. He felt uneasy.

Into the studio they passed, the visitor going first as though he knew the way, Mr. Jenkyn noticing through his flurry that he was in his “Sunday best.” Evidently he had come with a definite purpose. It was odd. Still without speaking, he moved straight across the room and posed himself in front of the dingy background of painted trees, facing the camera. The studio was brightly lit. He seated himself in the faded arm-chair, crossed his legs, drew up the little round table with the artificial roses upon it in a tall, thin vase, and struck an attitude. He meant to be photographed.

His eyes, staring straight into the lens, draped as it was with the black velvet curtain, seemed, however, to take no account of the Photographic Artist. But Mr. Jenkyn, standing still beside the door, felt a cold air playing over his face that was not merely the winter cold from the street. He felt his hair rise. A slight shiver ran down his back. In that pale, drawn face, and in those staring eyes across the room that gazed so fixedly into the draped camera, he read the signature of illness that no longer knows hope. It was Death that he saw.

In a flash the impression came and went—less than a second. The whole business, indeed, had not occupied two minutes. Mr. Jenkyn pulled himself together with a strong effort, dismissed his foolish obsession, and came sharply to practical considerations. “Forgive me,” he said, a trifle thickly, confusedly, “but I—er—did not quite realise. You desire to sit for your portrait, of course. I’ve had such a busy day, and—’ardly looked for a customer so late.” The clock, as he spoke, struck six. But he did not notice the sound. Through his mind ran another reflection: “A man shouldn’t ‘ave his picture taken when he’s ill and next door to dying. Lord! He’ll want a lot of touching-up and finishin’, too!”

He began discussing the size, price, and length—the usual rigmarole of his “profession,” and the other, sitting there, still vouchsafed no comment or reply. He simply made the impression of a man in a great hurry, who wished to finish a disagreeable business without unnecessary talk. Many men, reflected the photographer, were the same; being photographed was worse to them than going to the dentist. Mr. Jenkyn filled the pauses with his professional running talk and patter, while the sitter, fixed and motionless, kept his first position and stared at the camera. The photographer rather prided himself upon his ability to make sitters look bright and pleasant; but this man was hopeless. It was only afterwards Mr. Jenkyn recalled the singular fact that he never once touched him—that, in fact, something connected possibly with his frail appearance of deadly illness had prevented his going close to arrange the details of the hastily assumed pose.

“It must be a flashlight, of course, Mr. Wilson,” he said, fidgeting at length with the camera-stand, shifting it slightly nearer; while the other moved his head gently yet impatiently in agreement. Mr. Jenkyn longed to suggest his coming another time when he looked better, to speak with sympathy of his illness; to say something, in fact, that might establish a personal relation. But his tongue in this respect seemed utterly tied. It was just this personal relation which seemed impossible of approach—absolutely and peremptorily impossible. There seemed a barrier between the two. He could only chatter the usual professional commonplaces. To tell the truth, Mr. Jenkyn thinks he felt a little dazed the whole time—not quite his usual self. And, meanwhile, his uneasiness oddly increased. He hurried. He, too, wanted the matter done with and his visitor gone.

At length everything was ready, only the flashlight waiting to be turned on, when, stooping, he covered his head with the velvet cloth and peered through the lens— at no one! When he says “at no one,” however, he qualifies it thus: “There was a quick flash of brilliant white light and a face in the middle of it—my gracious Heaven! But such a face—’im, yet not ’im—like a sudden rushing glory of a face! It shot off like lightning out of the camera’s field of vision. It left me blinded, I assure you, ’alf blinded, and that’s a fac’. It was sheer dazzling!”

It seems Mr. Jenkyn remained entangled a moment in the cloth, eyes closed, breath coming in gasps, for when he got clear and straightened up again, staring once more at his customer over the top of the camera, he stared for the second time at—no one. And the cap that he held in his left hand he clapped feverishly over the uncovered lens. Mr. Jenkyn staggered… looked hurriedly round the empty studio, then ran, knocking a chair over as he went, into the passage. The hall was deserted, the front door closed. His visitor had disappeared “almost as though he hadn’t never been there at all”—thus he described it to himself in a terrified whisper. And again he felt the hair rise on his scalp; his skin crawled a little, and something put back the ice against his spine.

After a moment he returned to the studio and somewhat feverishly examined it. There stood the chair against the dingy background of trees; and there, close beside it, was the round table with the flower vase. Less than a minute ago Mr. Thomas Wilson, looking like death, had been sitting in that very chair. “It wasn’t all a sort of dreamin’, then,” ran through his disordered and frightened mind. “I did see something…!” He remembered vaguely stories he had read in the newspapers, stories of queer warnings that saved people from disasters, apparitions, faces seen in dream, and so forth. “Maybe,” he thought with confusion, “something’s going to ’appen to me!” Further than that he could not get for some little time, as he stood there staring about him, almost expecting that Mr. Wilson might reappear as strangely as he had disappeared. He went over the whole scene again and again, reconstructing it in minutest detail. And only then, for the first time, did he plainly realise two things which somehow or other he had not thought strange before, but now thought very strange. For his visitor, he remembered, had not uttered a single word, nor had he, Mr. Jenkyn, once touched his person… And, thereupon, without more ado, he put on his hat and coat and went round to the little shop in the main street to buy some ink and stationery which he did not in the least require.

The shop seemed all as usual, though Mr. Wilson himself was not visible behind the littered desk. A tall gentleman was talking in low tones to the partner. Mr. Jenkyn bowed as he went in, then stood examining a case of cheap stylographic pens, waiting for the others to finish. It was impossible to avoid overhearing. Besides, the little shop had distinguished customers sometimes, he had heard, and this evidently was one of them. He only understood part of the conversation, but he remembers all of it. “Singular, yes, these last words of dying men,” the tall man was saying, “very singular. You remember Newman’s: ‘More light,’ wasn’t it?” The bookseller nodded.

“Fine,” he said, “fine, that!” There was a pause. Mr. Jenkyn stooped lower over the pens. “This, too, was fine in its way,” the gentleman added, straightening up to go; “the old promise, you see, unfulfilled but not forgotten. Cropped up suddenly out of the delirium. Curious, very curious! A good, conscientious man to the last. In all the twenty years I’ve known him he never broke his word…”

A motor-bus drowned a sentence, and then was heard in the bookseller’s voice, as he moved towards the door. “…You see, he was half-way down the stairs before they found him, always repeating the same thing, ‘I promised the wife, I promised the wife.’ And it was a job, I’m told, getting him back again… he struggled so. That’s what finished him so quick, I suppose. Fifteen minutes later he was gone, and his last words were always the same, ‘I promised the wife’…”

The tall man was gone, and Mr. Jenkyn forgot about his purchases. “When did it ’appen?” he heard himself asking in a voice he hardly recognised as his own. And the reply roared and thundered in his ears as he went down the street a minute later to his house: “Close on six o’clock—a few minutes before the hour. Been ill for weeks, yes. Caught him out of bed with high fever on his way to your place, Mr. Jenkyn, calling at the top of his voice that he’d forgotten to see you about his picture being taken. Yes, very sad, very sad indeed.”

But Mr. Jenkyn did not return to his studio. He left the light burning there all night. He went to the little room where he slept out, and next day gave the plate to be developed by his assistant. “Defective plate, sir,” was the report in due course; “shows nothing but a flash of light—uncommonly brilliant.” “Make a print of it all the same,” was the reply. Six months later, when he examined the plate and print, Mr. Jenkyn found that the singular streaks of light had disappeared from both. The uncommon brilliance had faded out completely as though it had never been there.

The Times-Democrat [New Orleans LA] 12 March 1911: p. 39

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Algernon Blackwood is perhaps best known for his “weird” supernatural and horror fiction. This is a workmanlike example of one of his ghost stories.

Mrs Daffodil regrets that the death-like countenance of Mr Wilson did not appear in the plate or the print so that the image could have been presented to his wife as a memento (mori) of the occasion. Normally a post-mortem photograph would be taken at the home of the deceased, with the decedent passively submitting to the professional ministrations of the photographic artist. The notion of a post-mortem photograph taken of a subject who not only walked into the photographic studio but posed himself at a table containing a vase of artificial roses is uncommonly chilling.

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Grandmere Jeanneton: 1884

grandmere

“GRANDMERE JEANNETON.”

I was smoking my after-dinner cigar and reading Figaro on the esplanade in Strasbourg, when I was accosted by an old woman who inquired in French for the nearest photographer. She wore the common dress of the Alsatian peasant, and her dusty shoes indicated a long foot journey, but under her linen head-dress fell her white hair round a face that, sunburnt and wrinkled and wearing traces of recent tears, yet was so beautiful in its expression of tender goodness and touching resignation not unmixed with a certain pride, that I involuntarily addressed her as “Grandmere,” and forgetting that I had promised a friend to await his arrival, offered to guide her to her destination.

On the road she told me her simple story. She was a widow, and lived prior to the French-German war with her married son in a village, fifty miles from Strasbourg. They were well-to-do peasants before the enemy invaded their little village; but one morning they woke to find the Prussians encamped in their fields and making themselves perfectly at home. More troops arrived the next day and the following, until the quiet village was a big camp, where the enemy heaped up the stores needed for the siege of Strasbourg.

One dark night the camp was alarmed and a magazine containing among other stores a considerable quantity of powder was found on fire, and there was no doubt that it was the work of the inhabitants. Accordingly the next morning six of the most prominent or most patriotic of the inhabitants were brought before the Prussian commander, and after a short examination that proved nothing, without further trial, were shot in the square in front of the village church. The widow’s son was one of the six victims, and his wife, who became frantic with grief over his death, was the next morning found lifeless on his grave, thus leaving her infant son to the sole care of his grandmother.

The old woman now centered all her hope and all her affection in the little boy, and as he grew up she was fully repaid, for he loved his grandmother with an intensity often found in children who die young a love that was alone equaled by his veneration of his dead parents, his adoration of “la belle France” and his hate of the Prussians, for the old woman, who loved her country dearly, and never forgot that her husband fell fighting for it at “Solferino,” and that her son was killed by its enemies, instilled, perhaps unconsciously, both feelings in his young breast.

One day, when the boy was 10 years old, a Prussian official who inspected the village school was struck with his beauty and serious air, and addressed a question to him in German respecting his parents. “The Prussians killed them,” answered the boy in French. The official colored, and in a rebuking tone asked the boy why he didn’t speak German. “Because it is the language of my country’s enemies,” answered the boy fearlessly.

The official ordered him in arrest, and he was shut up in a chamber above the school-room, where he remained until night, when he boldly leaped from the window to the ground and, as he fell in a thick copse, escaped unhurt. The boy now fairly flew to his grandmother’s house, but as he was afraid of being seen and brought back to the school if he followed the road, he crossed in through the fields behind the village.

It was in the harvest and the grapes were ripe, so old Martin, the owner of the choicest grapes in the village, kept watch with a loaded shot-gun over his precious treasures. Softly he walks over the field behind the wine-press, when he hears something force its way through the grapevines. He stops and cocks his piece. He will now catch the thief who robs him of his biggest grapes. The moon is behind the clouds, out he sees the outline of a person running fast through the vines. “Halt!” he commands but the person never heeds him. He raises his gun–a flash–a scream–a fall of a body among the grapes, and when the old man arrives on the spot, he finds instead of the supposed grape thief a little curly-haired boy whose life is fast ebbing away with the blood that flows out and mixes with the crushed grapes; his black eyes are already fixed and glassy and it is with a faltering voice he whispers: “Give my love to grandmother and tell her– father! mother! I am coming”–his hands grasp the vines tighter, he raises himself to a sitting posture, the moon coming from behind the clouds shines on the wine leaves in his curly hair, a cry rises in his throat: “Vive la belle France!”–he sinks back, his eyes closed, and the orphan boy is gone.

“And it was me–me alone–who murdered him,” complained the grandmother when she concluded her tale. Her eyes were dry, but the muscles round the corner of her mouth worked convulsively and there was a great sob in her throat. “It was all my fault, the result of my unforgiveness; holy Mary have mercy–” and the old woman ran the black beads of her rosary through her fingers, murmuring her prayers.

We arrived shortly after at our destination, the atelier of a French photographer, with whom I was slightly acquainted. I introduced my companion to him, and he, after offering her a seat, addressed some questions to her about her picture. She looked at him with wonder, and finally replied that she only wanted a picture of her boy. “Ah!” said the photographer, “a little boy, very good, where is he!” A tear dimmed the old woman’s black eye, and for answer she pointed up to heaven. “Oh!” exclaimed my friend, “dead! I do not like to photograph dead bodies, but still as monsieur brought you here I will make an exception; when did your little boy die?”

“When the grapes ripen he will have been gone a year,” replied the grandmother.

“But, my dear,” began the photographer, perplexed, when I interrupted him, and taking him aside told him the old woman’s story and how she had walked fifty miles on her old legs to procure a likeness of her dead grandchild.

“But, my dear fellow, what can I do? I am grieved, upon my word I am; but what would you have me do? I can’t photograph angels!”

A noise of romping children was now heard and two boys, about 8 and 10 years old, came running into the atelier, crying at the top of their voices: “Oh, papa, voici!”

“Hush, children!” said the parent, “go away; I am busy,” and the happy boys disappeared laughing in the next room. A sudden idea struck me and turning to the old woman, who looked wistfully at the door through which the boys escaped, I asked her if she had kept any of her little boy’s clothes. “Indeed I have, monsieur!” she answered. “I have kept everything belonging to the little dear,” and opening a bundle she carried with her she continued: “Here is the best dress and (her voice sunk to a whisper) the last I ever saw him wear.”

I now took the photographer aside and made him acquainted with my plan for “photographing angels,” and after obtaining his promise of carrying out my instructions I persuaded the grandmother to leave her grandson’s clothing in the atelier and follow me to an inn, where I left her to the care of the buxom hostess.

Two days after the photographer sent for her and on her arrival handed her a picture at sight of which the old woman began crying freely. “My boy! my own darling boy! It is the clothes I spun every thread of myself and his pretty curly hair but why does he cover his face so? Won’t he look at me?” she asked suddenly, looking up from the picture that represented a little boy kneeling in a chair with his folded hands before his face.

“Oh!” remarked the photographer, “he is saying his prayers.”

“Yes, yes, I know! he is praying for his poor old grandmere. Oh, my darling boy!” and the great tears rolled down her wrinkled cheeks. “God and our lady bless you, messieurs!” said she when she grew calmer. “I am now going to pray by my boy’s grave until I follow him;” and refusing all aid for her trip home, but pressing her newly found treasure fast to her brave old heart, “Grandmere Jeanneton” left us.

As to the picture, our readers have of course all guessed that the photographer dressed his oldest boy in the poor peasant boy’s clothes; and who would not practice such a deception to see the tears that rolled down Grandmere Jeanneton’s aged cheeks?

The Argos [IN] Reflector 25 December 1884: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil was formerly in service in the household of Mrs Marrowfat, the society medium and shudders at the impostures by which that clever lady enriched herself at the expense of the desolate and sorrowing. And yet, somehow, Mrs Daffodil cannot bring herself to condemn the photographer who gave such consolation to the aged Grandmere who had lost everything.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Baby’s Pitty Itty Picture: 1911

His “Pitty Itty Picture”

By MAX MERRYMAN

“Yes, it’s the very first time he ever had his photograph taken, so, of course, we want to get the very best picture possible, and —no, grandma; I don’t think, after all, that we’d better try to have it taken with his little rattle in hand. Do you, Aunt Harriet? You see, he would be apt to want to shake the rattle at the very moment when the photographer wants him to be perfectly still; but I don’t believe we can get him to keep perfectly still for ten seconds. He is really the most active child I ever saw, Mr. Photographer. He doesn’t even lie still in his sleep. I really think that it is nervousness more than anything else. The doctor says that the child is perfectly well. In fact, I never saw a healthier child. He has never been sick a minute, and he is six months old today: I didn’t want his photograph taken any earlier than that, for I think that a baby hardly ever has much expression until he is about six months old, although every one says that our little Reginald is different from most babies in that respect. His Aunt Lucy was saying yesterday that he had the most intelligent expression of any—oh! I want several negatives taken, and see which one I like best. His grandma — that is, my mother here — wants one just head and shoulders; and his other grandma is very anxious to have a full figure, with him lying on a pillow we brought with us. His Aunt Lucy wants us to try and get a profile of him for her, for she says he has really a remarkable profile for a child of his age; and I want one picture with him in my arms, and his dear little cheek cuddled up to mine; and then we think it would be nice to have him and his two grandmas taken together; and I want one with him and my mother and myself all in it, showing three generations. I think that—better not fuss with his hair, grandma. Those little curls are about right, and I hope they will show good in the picture. So many people rave over his hair. My sister has a baby boy, ten months old, and he hasn’t a third as much hair as our baby has; but then he has never been real well, and he weighs a pound less than our baby, and—yes; we will be ready in just a few minutes. We want to slip on his best dress. We brought it with us in a box, so that it wouldn’t be all mussed up by him wearing it. Then we brought his best little cap, that his Aunt Jennie sent him from out West, and we want one taken with it on to send to her. This odd little rattle we brought is one his grandma had when she was a baby, and she thinks it would be nice to have it in his hand when it is taken. I am expecting his father in every minute. He said that he would meet us here at—here he is now! Here we are, papa, baby and all, and—see him hold out his little hands to his papa! He did that when he was only four months and one week old, and a friend of mine has a baby, eight months old, that has never yet held out its hands to any one. I want one photograph with the baby in his father’s arms, and—be careful, papa! Don’t get the child excited, or it will be so hard to get him still for his picture. The moment he sees his father he wants to romp and play. He is so full of vitality and—no, Aunt Kitty, I don’t believe that we’d better all go into the operating-room with him. I think that if his papa and his two grandmas and I go it will be enough. Too many might distract him and make it hard to keep him still. Is your father coming in, papa? You know, he said when he was over to the house last night that perhaps he would try to come in, and we thought that maybe we would have him and you and the baby taken together, as you all have the same name. I do think that it is nice to hand down a family name from one generation to another, and—yes, we will be ready in just a moment, as soon as—now, mamma’s baby is going to have his own, owney, itty picture taken, so he is, and he must be ever and ever so—what? Baby isn’t going to cry! Oh, ray, my! Tut, tut, tut! He won’t cry long. He never does. A cousin of mine has a baby that will cry all night, but, of course, the poor child isn’t well. I don’t think that well babies ever cry much, and I know that—papa, you’d better step out of sight until I get him ready. He wants to go to you when you are around. I do hope that the pictures will come out good. You see, we want to have some of them enlarged if they are good, and, as I say, it is his first photograph, and—baby doin’ to have his own, owney, pitty itty picture taken—yes, he is! The picture man will show baby itty bird—yes, he will! Baby must be good. Hand me a safety-pin, some one. Have you his little comb, grandma? Aunty Lou, supposing you moisten a corner of my handkerchief with water. There is a tiny smooch on one cheek. There, I think he is about ready. I do hope the picture will come out good! We mean to have more taken on his first birthday, and every birthday after that, and—no, papa, I’d better carry him into the operating-room. Tome, baby, and have his owney, own, pitty itty picture taken!”

Caricature; wit and humor of a nation in picture, song, and story, 1911

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: One can only pity the unhappy “Mr Photographer.” Mrs Daffodil previously wrote on the demanding “tin-type girls” who made his life a misery.

One photographer confessed to a reporter that he found infants to be trying subjects.

The artist was a heavy-eyed man; his hair was unkempt, his scarf was disarranged, and his coat-sleeves were turned up. He looked weary.

“I have just been attempting to fix a baby’s attention,” he said, in an explanatory tone, “by throwing handsprings behind the camera. When I showed the negative to the mother she made the inevitable observation that the face lacked expression. Can you put expression on the surface of a lump of damp putty?”

“Is it easier to photograph dogs than babies?”

“Oh, a thousand times. You can fix a dog’s attention and hold it for a time without difficulty. Then, dogs faces are more or less expressive. None of them has the look of stupidity that the average baby wears except the pug.

Pug dogs, by the way, are the easiest to take. All you have to do is to put them in front of the camera and they go to sleep at once. The most difficult dog I ever struggled with was an Italian greyhound. It was a delicate and extremely sensitive little creature, and endowed with almost human intelligence. It couldn’t keep its shadowy legs still half a second to save its life. We worked half a day, and succeeded at length in making a picture that was half satisfactory.’

“Do you photograph many dogs?”

“About 200 a year. Though work is done by a few specialists. The big photographers won’t bother with dogs.” New York Sun.

The Daily Globe [St. Paul MN] 3 January 1884: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes 

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.