Market Lavington Museum

A photographic poser

Alf Burgess was a professional photographer in Market Lavington from 1886 and he died in 1918. Those facts help us to date some of his photographs, which are in our collection at Market Lavington Museum. The carte de visite we are considering here poses more questions than we are able to answer.

Unlike many of these popular small photos, this one is not mounted on card and does not feature either of the styles of attribution we see on many of our other cartes de visite. See A carte de visite and Posing for a photograph, where the photographer is named on the front or the back of the mount. This card just has

printed on the back of the picture. Does this simpler style suggest an earlier date or was it just a cheaper option for the customer?

The fur that the child is sitting on is one of Mr Burgess’s props for it features here too – Alfred Burgess photographs.

We know nothing about the subject of our picture. We assume the photograph was taken in the late 1880s or the 1890s. The child could well be a little boy. Small Victorian boys wore dresses until they were ‘breeched’ when they were about three years old. We can see the lower edge of knickerbockers just above the knee, but these were also worn by boys from the 1860s onwards. And as for the hat …!!!

The child looks very suspicious of the whole process.

If anyone out there has knowledge of children’s fashion from the late Victorian era, we would love to hear your opinion.