This image by French photographer Camille Silvy was taken at his studio in Porchester Terrace, Bayswater and is typical of those that he was producing in the 1860s. The unknown woman is evidently of high social status, as were so many of Silvy’s clientele and in theory her identity should be easy to find. Unlike most other studios of the time, Silvy’s day books, where he recorded his clients, are still extant and some are available to see on-line. However, after searching the website, I am so far no nearer discovering the name of this elegant lady.
The window in front of which she stands was frequently used as a studio setting by Silvy, along with the artfully draped hanging other furnishings. The rather spindly potted plant to the side seems almost an intrusion into this scene of gentle elegance. However, this does not detract from the star of the photograph. The unknown woman stands with her billowing crinoline and expensive lace shawl, calm and collected, as a lady of her class should be. My hope is that one day I shall discover her name and something of the life she led. Until then I can admire the photograph, the only one I have from Silvy’s studio, as one of the favourites from my collection.
To view Images from C. Silvy’s day books follow the link below