Serious man and corseted woman

Click here to view it larger.

What it is:

Cabinet card measuring 4.25 x 6.5 inches.

What I know about it:

Nothing!  Undated and unidentified.


The simple cardboard backing makes me wonder if this is a draft copy.  I keep thinking that woman looks like the corset is squeezing her body out the top of her head like a tube of toothpaste.  I’m intrigued by the unfussy, almost modern (to my mind) way the drape rather neatly bisects the image, and the way the flowery pattern is backing the man.  Not that he looks happy about it.  Not that he looks like he’d be happy about much of anything.

18 comments on “Serious man and corseted woman”

  1. Ha! ‘Squeezing like toothpaste’. Classic. She looks like an alien (outer space kind) to me.

  2. he looks downright terrified 😉

  3. This looks like an 1880s image to me although I can’t see much of the dress. Let me just assure you that if you have any 19th century woman in a photograph, she will be wearing a corset. Even the lower classes emulated high fashion. Clothing was cut to fit over a corset and bodices might even have a bit of boning in them to help maintain the shape. She has probably been wearing a corset of some kind since age 8 or 10.

    • Oh yes, sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that corsets were rare, since I know they were a standard part of the fashion of the day, just that the corseting seems so obvious in this photo, and that it seems to be having a negative impact on this woman. Thanks, as always, for your knowledgeable input! 🙂

  4. Neither looks happy – or comfortable!

  5. I think her head is going to pop.

  6. I think they’re both holding their breath. The woman reminds me a bit of Sissy Spacek.

  7. They both look like they are thinking ‘has he taken it yet!?’

  8. Looks to me as though they’re quite young and quite scared. Engagement? Been married for years even at their relatively young age? She looks so miserable behind a mask of “well, this is my lot in life.” And he looks miserable, too.

    Ah, Nineteenth Century. You were good, good times. No wonder the laudanum epidemic.

  9. yeah, I get the impression the expressions have nothing to do with marriage, and everything to do with something that just happened in the room. Unexpected flash pop?

    • Yes, I know it’s too easy (and a little too fun) to assume that the expressions and poses in photos represent the larger contexts of their lives, but without additional information about them it’s hard to think much else. Thanks for the link. Whenever I see Victorian photography portrayed in a movie or TV show, the flash is always astonishingly bright.

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