Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

How much "skin" in female portraits?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • How much "skin" in female portraits?

    One constant of female portraits from the period is their chaste dress. Presumably since period photography required prodigeous amounts of sunlight, the lady would be out and about to the imagist in a day dress with a high collar, and not one for evening, where there might be some neck or shoulders showing. Has anyone ever seen any examples of draping or other instances were a little neck or even some chest (not cleavage) shows?
    Bill Cross
    The Rowdy Pards

  • #2
    Re: How much "skin" in female portraits?

    Not counting photos that are obviously meant to be pornographic, there are some photos of women in evening clothes, which show the normal amount of skin for the fashion. For example, http://sensibility.com/vintageimages...eballgown2.jpg

    Hank Trent
    hanktrent@voyager.net
    Hank Trent

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: How much "skin" in female portraits?

      Hank

      Would you say that is a debutant gown?
      Robert Johnson

      "Them fellers out thar you ar goin up against, ain't none of the blue-bellied, white-livered Yanks and sassidge-eatin'forrin' hirelin's you have in Virginny that run atthe snap of a cap - they're Western fellers, an' they'll mighty quick give you a bellyful o' fightin."



      In memory of: William Garry Co.H 5th USCC KIA 10/2/64 Saltville VA.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: How much "skin" in female portraits?

        Originally posted by hireddutchcutthroat
        Would you say that is a debutant gown?
        Haven't looked into the history of debuting in the 1860s to know what customs and fashions were involved if any, so maybe you can fill me in on that.

        I don't see anything about it that stands out differently from a typical ball gown of the period.

        What's interesting though is that there are two pictures of different women (reportedly with different names on the back) in identical dresses, taken in the same studio. The other one is at http://sensibility.com/vintageimages...teballgown.jpg

        I'm guessing they were sisters, since there's a facial resemblance, and there are a few references to sisters choosing to dress alike sometimes.

        Hank Trent
        hanktrent@voyager.net
        Hank Trent

        Comment


        • #5
          Debuting?

          I would also be interested in period information on "debuting". I have not come across a reference to it in 1860s etiquette books, and I can only think of one possible reference in period literature. Was it done by the upper crust, mostly in Europe, had it gone out of fashion, or I am really overlooking it? Etiquette books tend to mention many different customs, even if to state that something is no longer done, that the author disapproves of it, or to suggest it should be adopted.

          Young ladies were advised to wear ball gowns of very lightweight fabrics, and many fashion plates show ball gowns made of fine fabrics and an abundance of trimming, so I would agree that the dress in the photograph does not look stylistically different than a ball gown. I would really like to see a sample (or own a dress length!) of that fabric.

          This isn't the first time I have seen an identical looking dress or bonnet in two different photographs. Are there any references to "sharing" a best article of clothing for a photograph?

          Kira Sanscrainte
          "History is not history unless it is the truth."—A. Lincoln

          "Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest."—Mark Twain

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Debuting?

            This isn't the first time I have seen an identical looking dress or bonnet in two different photographs. Are there any references to "sharing" a best article of clothing for a photograph?
            We know that photographers kept props around their studios for soldiers having an image struck (the same guns and knives show up in multiple photos). Since having an image struck was both a relatively new thing AND a luxury, I wonder if photographers did not have clothing available as well? After all, a fine ball gown would satisfy the asperational dreams of women wanting an image struck. The investment would be returned by inducing the otherwise less well-off to indulge their vanity.

            And having been a photographer in another life, I know that clothing can be pinned to fit if the wearer is only going to be seen from one side and isn't moving.
            Bill Cross
            The Rowdy Pards

            Comment


            • #7
              And on the home front,

              In "Civil War Civilians", Juanita Leisch identifies a child's rocking horse in a picture as a photographer's prop, though I don't know if that is speculation.

              Kira Sanscrainte
              "History is not history unless it is the truth."—A. Lincoln

              "Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest."—Mark Twain

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: How much "skin" in female portraits?

                Originally posted by Hank Trent
                What's interesting though is that there are two pictures of different women (reportedly with different names on the back) in identical dresses, taken in the same studio. The other one is at http://sensibility.com/vintageimages...teballgown.jpg

                I'm guessing they were sisters, since there's a facial resemblance, and there are a few references to sisters choosing to dress alike sometimes.

                Hank Trent
                hanktrent@voyager.net
                When I saw the picture Hank posted of the women wearing the matching ball gowns, I thought I had seen those faces before. I looked in the file of CdVs that I had saved from the past and sure enough, I had saved two different CdVs of the same women. They appear to be wearing the same gowns they were wearing in the CdVs Hank posted, the only difference is that they are wearing curls in their hair. Maybe they were playing around with different hair styles for each picture. Or, maybe these images were taken at different times. I wish I had more info on them. Anyway, I thought I would share them with you nonetheless.

                Here are the images:

                http://www.thegracefullady.com/Women...20ballgown.jpg
                http://www.thegracefullady.com/Women...0ballgown3.jpg
                http://www.thegracefullady.com/women...0ballgown4.jpg
                http://www.thegracefullady.com/Women...0ballgown2.jpg


                -Anna Allen
                http://www.thegracefullady.com
                Anna Allen
                <a href="http://starofthewestsociety.googlepages.com/">Star of the West Society</a>
                [COLOR="DarkRed"][B]The Cherry Bounce Girls Mess[/B][/COLOR] :p

                [I]It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.[/I]-Andrew Jackson

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: How much "skin" in female portraits?

                  Anna,

                  Thanks for posting the pictures. They add another interesting facet to the discussion (besides giving a better view of the bodice and sleeve trim!) The women's necklaces are about the only thing different from each other; they are even posed almost identically in both pictures. There has to be a story here!

                  Kira Sanscrainte
                  "History is not history unless it is the truth."—A. Lincoln

                  "Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest."—Mark Twain

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: How much "skin" in female portraits?

                    I have been doing some research on period art photographers, and it quickly became a thriving business, especially after the invention of wet plate collodion photography. Daguerreotypes, while superior in most ways, were expensive and hard-to-do, though they were more accepting of color and some of the most-famous nudes from the period are done on daguerreotypes. Wet plates, on the other hand, were relatively cheap and easy-to-master, so this development really gave commercial photography a kick-start. Salons offering photos sprang up, and soon reproductions were being sold as well (stereographs, CDVs, even prints made with a variety of processes). Bob Szabo pointed out somewhere that most of the general populace, for example, experienced the war in stereographic images sold to home viewers. This explains why so many images seen in their archival form are stereographs.

                    While having one's image struck was naturally attractive to folks, buyers also were soon found for commercial prints, CDVs, etc. (including the stereographs). Some of these were travel scenes, pictures of the famous (hence the many CDVs of generals, politicians, etc.), and of course, the infamous "French postcards" (which actually are mostly much later than our period, though erotic images did circulate widely during the 1850s, at least in France). The subject matter did not always approach the lascivious, though what was titillating by THEIR standards is quite modest and even precious by ours (couples embracing in their long nightgowns, for example).

                    My point (and I do have one) is that this woman COULD be a photographer's model. The idea that a client would have this many images struck seems unlikely to me. Even the wealthy apparently found the practice sufficiently new that it was still a special occasion to have a photograph taken-- and so strange to most folks that the poses and expressions look more like post-mortem images than from life (don't get me started on the REAL post mortem images that circulated during this period). Certainly the photographers I have been examining in France during the 1850s used the same models on different occasions, so it's not altogether unlikely this lady was as much a prop in the photo as the gown she wore.
                    Bill Cross
                    The Rowdy Pards

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: How much "skin" in female portraits?

                      Originally posted by Bill Cross
                      My point (and I do have one) is that this woman COULD be a photographer's model. The idea that a client would have this many images struck seems unlikely to me.
                      She could also be a photographer's relative, having cheap and easy access to getting a photograph made.

                      But what I'm curious about is the suggestion that she's his model. Do you mean someone that he asked to pose so he could practice taking pictures, or do you mean a model for photographs that he intended to sell commercially? In other words, are you suggesting that the pictures of this woman would be of enough interest to the general public, that the photographer might have paid her to pose for them?

                      I dunno, my gut just says no,unless I'm overlooking something. The pose seems too chaste for any pornographic value, and she's exposing skin on the less interesting half of the woman anyway, from a period standpoint. She's also apparently not a celebrity.

                      One possibility is that she's just modeling the dress which is destined for some engraver to make into a fashion plate, but that seems a long-shot.

                      Hank Trent
                      hanktrent@voyager.net
                      Hank Trent

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: How much "skin" in female portraits?

                        Originally posted by Hank Trent
                        are you suggesting that the pictures of this woman would be of enough interest to the general public that the photographer might have paid her to pose for them?

                        One possibility is that she's just modeling the dress which is destined for some engraver to make into a fashion plate, but that seems a long-shot.
                        Keep in mind I made a f poor to fair living as a photographer in another life, so I have a little experience with the breed. Why he might've photographed her is not entirely clear. But the CDVs you showed are not the end-product of the photographic process. At that point in time, one posed for either an ambrotype (an under-exposed negative made on glass plate covered with a sticky film and silver nitrate) or a tintype (photographed onto a piece of metal, again coated with a collodion that would hold silver nitrate and produce an image). I'm leaving out daguerreotypes, which were more expensive, both to make and required more extensive equipment, one reason the process soon was replaced by wet plates. With both an ambrotype (and there were variations with other names, but the ambrotype is the major form) and the tintype, only a single image was produced with no way to replicate it directly that I know of. In other words, you got one shot per exposure.

                        When the photographer thought he (or she, there were some women imagists, though they're sadly overlooked or forgotten today) might want multiple copies of a scene, portrait, etc., he made a wet plate negative (the exposure and development times get manipulated to produce a denser image that then reverses like today's negative films-- er, yesterday's, since most folks are moving to digital cameras now. He would then produce contact prints from the negative. As the name implies, contact prints are made by putting photosensitized paper in contact with a negative, exposing it to light, which produces a positive image on the paper once it is developed. I don't know if there was any way to make enlargements at this point in time; perhaps if Bob Szabo is lurking, a real expert on the process can jump in.

                        So to make a CDV, the photographer or someone had to make a wet plate negative and then print the image onto paper. The process was cumbersome and time-consuming, so it would not have been done without some payoff at the other end. It explains the popularity of images of General Grant, Lincoln, etc., with celebrities of the day also big subjects of CDVs (travel scenes, too). CDVs were extended to the general public as a form of mass-produced replication. Need a photo to send to relatives? The CDV is a cheap way to do it (glass plates are heavy and can break).

                        But that having been said, photographers like to photograph. Our unnamed imagist could've been looking for someone to show his process to potential customers (the 19th Century version of the Wal-Mart photo studio ad). He could also have used her to practice his craft, or he could have taken multiple exposures for some unknown commercial endeavor. Sadly there are many possibilities, the only thing I'm sure of is it's strange that an otherwise unremarkable young woman turns up relatively a lot in the same dress. Again, this is man bites dog. For example, in a book of period French nudes (where presumably ALL the subjects were paid to pose and not the other way 'round), the same model turns up only occasionally.
                        Bill Cross
                        The Rowdy Pards

                        Comment

                        Working...
                        X