Four women, two photographers

Click here to view it larger.

Here are four little CDVs. They are all undated, though I’m guessing they’re from the same general time period, and they are unidentified. But I noticed that the top two are by the same photographer (W. Elliot of Penrith, England), and the bottom two are by the same photographer (P. Devine of Edinburgh, Scotland). That made me start looking at them side by side. If I had been told that there were two photographers represented here, would I have been able to pick out which was which? Are the similarities and differences I’m seeing the result of actual differences in style and technique, or is it a coincidence? The top two look more somber, and the bottom two a little lighter. Is that true, or is it just a coincidence resulting from the fact that the top two show darker dresses, while the bottom two are shinier? The drapes in the top two stick out from the wall enough to provide depth in the shadow, while the drapes in the bottom two are flush against the wall in a way that creates a flatter brightness. Is the camera in the top two more level with the subjects, and the camera in the bottom two a bit higher, or is it just that the bottom two women are shorter? Or is it all in my head, the power of suggestion, knowing who took the pictures? After all, there are other examples of photos from both photographers online that look quite different. I don’t know. Meanwhile, I love all four of these images, and despite my sharing them together, I think they are each worth considering individually.

10 comments on “Four women, two photographers”

  1. Your observations are insightful as always. I honestly would not have been able to guess that any two of these had been taken by the same photographer.

    The only thing I notice is that the woman in the upper left moved her left hand a little, perhaps because it wasn’t in a resting position. Her pose is nice otherwise, but I wonder if Devine failed to warn her to stay still, or if she was nervous or fidgety.

    • I’m sure I wouldn’t have made that connection without reading the backs. But having made the connection, I was drawn into finding ways I might have. Still, it’s a long shot at best. And yes, it seems like the upper-left woman moved her hand slightly. I keep thinking her face looks a little soft-focus, as if that moved a bit, too, but I could be wrong.

      • I see what you mean about her face. She looks nervous to me. Wish we could see more of her striped snood.

        The dresses of all four ladies are beautiful. The one at lower left appeals to me the most, with all those white accents (not sure if that’s the right word).

      • I agree. Not only do they seem to be displaying four different personalities, they all have rather different dresses, all beautiful. I’m seeing a lot of details that aren’t familiar to me, and I don’t know whether that’s a reflection of my own ignorance of historical garments, particularly non-American ones, or if they are truly unusual.

      • Before I started collecting early portraits, I had no interest in women’s fashions. Now I’m constantly like, “What is that? I’ve never seen that before.” LOL.

        A quick correction to my previous comment: the striped hairpiece probably isn’t a snood. I don’t know the correct word for it. She could be wearing a snood behind it, which we can’t see.

      • LOL, I’m right there with you. Previously, I would admire pretty or interesting clothes, but had no real knowledge of what I was looking at. I’m still no expert, but collecting photos has helped me learn a bit. And yeah, I assumed you meant there was a snood attached to her striped hairpiece, though I we can’t really see it.

  2. A local expert pinpoints these as 1863-1864, by the fashions. (fyi)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: