Posts tagged “Child

Brigham Portrait

Gill Holtby 1929 Brigham portrait

Gillian Holtby, 1929

Having researched the history of Foster Brigham’s studios in Bridlington (particularly his Snaps walking pictures operation) , it is fascinating to discover photographs taken there of my own relatives.  This remarkable portrait is so well done, and hard to believe it’s a black and white portrait hand coloured by the studio, the work is so good.  It is nicely signed by Brigham in pencil, something most professionals did at the time.

It’s of my Aunt, Gillian Holtby, and was taken in 1929 in Bridlington at Brigham’s studio on The Promenade. As she was born in 1925, it makes her around four years old.  I have also found the original black and white photograph (also signed) from which the hand tinted version was done, so you get an idea of the work involved.

Gillian Holtby pre tinting

Gillian Holtby. Photographic portrait by Foster-Brigham, Bridlington. Gill born 1925, image taken C1928.


Colodion positive

Thomas Audas snr

Thomas Audas of Hull, aged 4

This photograph has been in the family for as long as I remember, housed in a small portrait box with a lid, and a nice gold looking metal surround.  This is all falling apart now, but a small caption in biro on a piece of paper inside written by my Grandmother tells me it is my Great Grandfather “aged 4”, which seemed very early for a portrait, so I thought it was time to see if this was correct. Thomas Holtby, the gentleman in question, was born in 1852 in Wainfleet, a small village on the Lincolnshire coast.

The portrait is exposed direct onto glass. Looking at the information on the Science Museum website, this type of photographic portrait, known as a colodion positive, enjoyed a fairly short period of popularity between 1853 and the 1860s when better technology arrived, but continued to be used for street portraits as it was so quick to do. Basically the photograph was taken on a small glass plate to produce a negative, but then using chemical to bleach the negative, it turned into a pale positive. By placing this on top of a black backing sheet, a viewable positive image was produced.

Thomas certainly could be four here, so the portrait here is likely to be from 1856. At that time his father (and his uncle) had a joinery and carpentry business in the town, but whether the photograph was taken there or in the town of Hull I’m not sure.  There is no fancy backdrop, just a couple of props, but he is quite smartly dressed which suggests a special visit.  Thomas would later become a dentist in Hull, survived serving in World War 1, and was also an amateur naturalist.

It does amaze me that something this fragile has survived over 150 years.  I did take it out of the frame to scan but haven’t put it back too firmly in case I cracked the glass.  Nor have I done any restoration to the scan yet; I kind of like the flaws, developing faults, scratches and other signs of age.

I have added a few more of my interesting old family photographs, or ones which have some added social history content, to the site.


Donkey rides

While this site is about the walking picture images, many other types of portrait were available to the day-trippers at the coast in the 1920s and 1930s. Having your child photographed atop a donkey was more popular than you might imagine, and I have a gallery of half a dozen of these images on the easy on the eye site if you want to read a bit more. The photograph here was taken on Blackpool Pleasure Beach on September 20th 1928. I don’t know who the little girl is.

Baby on a donkey, Blackpool