It’s a strange lockdown world we live in where dog grooming is classed as an essential service but the human equivalent is not. The result is that our dog is today walking around like a well-coiffured matinee idol, whilst I look like an over-enthusiastic kitchen mop. It would be nice to think that my abundant whiskers were as well cared for as those of this unknown sitter for a little Carte de Visite from the Barnsley studio of Warner Gothard – but, alas, they are not.
Warner Gothard was a great example of those nineteenth century pioneers of commercial studio photography. He started his first studio along with his brother in 1852 in Grimsby and later moved to Wakefield and then, in1893, to Barnsley. Several of his twelve children followed him into the photography business and, in addition to studio photography, the family specialised in postcard production. Warner Gothard is particularly remembered for his “montage postcards” of the early twentieth century, which commemorated major events and disasters. In the first two decades of the twentieth century there was hardly a coal mining disaster taking place, or a ship sinking off the coast of Britain, without a Warner Gothard commemorative postcard being produced. Perhaps this strange world we live in pre-dates the lockdown after all.