And the Parrot came too

When you think of Victorian family portraits, animals aren’t the first thing that spring to mind. Usually a group would consist of  husband and wife or parents with their brood of children. Granny and Grandpa, as well as uncles aunts and companions, might have got a look in too. However in some cases, the family pet was included in the portrait.


In my own collection it is dogs that predominate as photographic ‘extras’ as seen in this charming portrait of a small girl, taken in York by Matthew Cuthbert. The studio has been fitted out to suggest a window opening onto a garden and who has crept in but the faithful family dog. The animal, who seems to be a collie dog, looks rather bored with the photography in process. It is possible that he was a studio prop as well, brought for added interest as the need arose.


Another photograph, taken in St Petersburg by a photographer whose name I cannot decipher, leaves the viewer in no doubt that the dog in the scene belongs to the woman by its side. A slender linked chain connects the two and what could be a name tag sits at the dog’s collar. In this image it is the animal rather than the woman who seems to be the focus of the scene. He or she stares out at the camera as if being captured for posterity was an everyday occurrence. This photo gives the impression that dog and mistress were constant companions but the answer to that we shall never know.


This third photograph is evidence that it wasn’t only dogs that were treated as part of the family. Here, in a photograph by Sarony of Scarborough, a young woman plays with a parrot atop its cage, while she kneels on a flowery footstool at its side. Apparently, parrots and other birds were popular pets in the Victorian era. In a Victorian diary I have read of an instance where, when the parrot passed on, it was suggested that it should be stuffed before being reinstated in its cage. It is to be hoped that the one in the photograph fared better.

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September’s image

This gallery contains 2 photos.

This photo, of Mrs Patterson and Janet, was taken around the mid-1860s by J. Berra of Manchester. The gowns of the two women point towards middle class respectability, being stylishly restrained but evidently of fine quality. The dress of the … Continue reading

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August’s image – an unusual character

This gallery contains 4 photos.

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This gallery contains 5 photos.

Looking through the c-d-v photographs in my collection, it seems that many were taken to mark special occasions. A recent clutch of images, taken in 19th century Germany, gave several examples of this trend. This first image shows a chubby baby, … Continue reading


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One aspect of collecting carte de visite photographs is the ability it gives us to look back and see what our forebears were wearing during the second half of the 19th century. It has to be said that male attire altered somewhat … Continue reading


Death by Camera

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The Pencil of Light!

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Light is the very essence of photography and its capture, as an image, taxed the minds of many in the early years of the 19th century. By the late 1840s  after many experiments with chemically coated surfaces, developers and fixatives … Continue reading

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