During the stress of the last few months with my recent legal action against Essex County Council, Victorian photos – particularly those known as carte de visite photographs – have haunted my waking moments. This is perhaps a strange hobby for anyone to have – not least for it to manifest itself during a legal confrontation with an education authority and coping with their very modern-day shenanigans of denying a vulnerable child an education appropriate to his needs. However, pondering the stories of long dead people and searching out interesting Victorian portraits in the flea markets of London and on-line from that well known auction site has given me some small comfort during the utter madness of the last few months.
Even as a small child, I have always loved looking at photographs of long dead people in their Sunday finery. I can pinpoint my fascination back to early childhood when I first saw Victorian photos of my own ancestors. I am pleased I can give names to the photos of my ancestors, but it always greatly saddens me when I see photograph upon photograph of long dead unknown people. These people were someone’s much loved father, mother, child, granny, grandfather. Now their names and families are lost forever – all that remains is a shadowy image that they once existed – a single moment in time captured forever.
Today’s image is a carte de viste of two Victorian children in their Sunday best, playing with a very well-dressed and expensive horse-haired doll, captured through the lens of Great Dunmow’s Victorian photographer, William Stacey.
“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.”
Four Quartets by T.S Eliot, 1935
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© Essex Voices Past 2013.