This little Victorian Carte de Visite dates from a time when photographs were for special occasions, rather than the result of a selfie-click on a smartphone. Young men or women would have their photographs taken on birthdays and holidays, wearing their very best clothes, and posing against a background of stone antiquities and tree-trunk props (the props really were to prop you up and keep you still to accommodate the lengthy shutter speeds of the Victorian cameras). Every northern mill town would have its fill of photographic studios, and these would often have branches in the seaside towns that were becoming more and more popular for Bank Holiday trips.
Who this young lady is, I have no idea, but she has the look of a woman of strong character, who might just have severed that tree branch all by herself.
Sometimes, old photographs lay around for ages, decades, centuries – holding within them images of great beauty. They are warehouses of history, repositories of memories, constantly being removed from pillar to post, from old cupboard to old shoebox. And then someone comes and with the help of a little digital renovation, a new image emerges from the shadows.
PICTURES FROM NOWHERE : OAKS AND STONE, RUPERRA, 7th APRIL 1932
An old photograph of a young man walking near Ruperra Castle in Wales in 1932. The photo is entitled “Oaks and Stone”, but that poetic title is the extent of my knowledge.
This is a print from a tiny album of photographs taken in 1932 at Ruperra Castle in Wales. Whoever took the photograph has given it the rather poetic title “Oaks and Stone”, and the subject has adopted somewhat aesthetic pose. During the early 1930s, the castle was the property of Evan Morgan, 4th Baron and 2nd Viscount Tredegar. Morgan was a noted poet and eccentric and a friend of people such as the poet, Lord Alfred Douglas; the painter, Augustus John; the socialite Nancy Cunard; and the author, H G Wells. Our figure is clearly none of those, but I would happily give an oak dresser or a stone jar to know who it was.
I won’t be around next week, I’m going to ski down a mountain. To be accurate, I am going to sit at the bottom of a mountain looking after t’grandson whilst his parents ski down a mountain. To be even more accurate, I am going to sup a cold beer at the bottom of a mountain, whilst the Good Lady Wife looks after t’grandson, whilst his parents ski down a mountain. Nevertheless, I won’t be around next week.