Woman and boy from Chicago

What it is:

Carte de visite (CDV) photo measuring approx. 2.5 x 4.25 inches.

What I know about it:

Photographer is Mountford of Chicago.  The date pre-printed on the back as part of the photographer’s imprint is 1875.  The name Charlotte is written on the back in pen.


The way she is leaning into the shot, book at the ready, a look of anticipation on her face, makes her look more alive and dynamic than many other studio portraits of the day, particularly when compared to the child, who looks fairly frozen in place.  I realize, of course, that people had to maintain perfect stillness in those days to remain in focus, but she somehow manages to hold a look that is far more relaxed and fluid than I’m used to seeing.  Meanwhile, is she Charlotte?  And is this her child?  That is my assumption.  I’m also assuming that this is a boy.   As was first discussed in a previous post, it was not unusual for little boys to be dressed in what we now think of as girl’s clothes, though the more I look at these old photos, the more I’m recognizing a certain blunt, frill-free style of skirted outfit that seems meant for boys rather than girls.  Plus, the hair parted on the side is apparently another clue to the gender.  (I’d argue that he simply looks like a boy, but we all know looks can be deceiving.)

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