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Curious

The photograph below, discovered by Lancashire researcher Robert Haley in a private Scottish collection, has the words "Les soeurs Brontë, Londres" written on the back. Is this a portrait of the Brontë sisters?

three.sisters.ambrotype.x400


From what I can tell from an admittedly quick glance around, experts at the National Media Museum have been dubious, while some members of the Brontë Society are aiding in research to (possibly) authenticate it. The photo currently is believed to be a ambrotype copy of a daguerreotype. The photographer who may have copied it is John Stewart of Pau, France & London, England. If these are the Brontë sisters, the original photo must have been taken before Emily died in 1848.

Here's an interesting website that 1) compares the women's faces in this photo with known portraits and written descriptions of each of the three Brontë sisters made during their lifetimes and 2) constructs a possible history for the photo based on the evidence it provides. Intriguing!

What do you think?

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Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
karmaku
Feb. 2nd, 2014 04:02 pm (UTC)
Fascinating! Thank you so much for sharing this.
eldritchhobbit
Feb. 12th, 2014 06:01 pm (UTC)
My pleasure! I thought it was amazing (and I was surprised I hadn't heard about it before now).
peadarog
Feb. 2nd, 2014 04:41 pm (UTC)
How cool! No matter what the outcome is...
eldritchhobbit
Feb. 12th, 2014 06:02 pm (UTC)
Yes! That's what I thought, too.
methylviolet10b
Feb. 2nd, 2014 05:54 pm (UTC)
OooooOOooOOOoo!!! It's a wonderful image. I would dearly love it to be a picture of the Bronte sisters, which makes me automatically suspicious (too good to be true!). That being said, the website you link to is fascinating. It is certainly not outside the realm of possibility that this photograph (okay, copy of a daguerreotype) is in fact what it purports to be.

Ooo. :-D

Almost entirely (but not quite) unrelated: have you seen any of the Pre-Raphaelite photography? There was a show at the national gallery a few years back, and at least one nice book... Early photography is fascinating stuff. (And some of the methods used to do it were amazingly toxic, but that's another subject entirely.)

Edited at 2014-02-02 05:58 pm (UTC)
eldritchhobbit
Feb. 12th, 2014 06:05 pm (UTC)
I'm with you: I'd love it to be the real thing! And there's enough evidence to make it a compelling possibility worthy of investigation. It's clearly not some simple prank, for example.

Ooooh, that link to the Pre-Raphaelite photography is fantastic! Thanks for the heads up. I need to get my hands on the book related to that show. It looks fascinating.
Abbie Culbertson
Feb. 8th, 2014 06:23 pm (UTC)
So interesting! I love this kind of stuff.

"If these are the Brontë sisters, the original photo must have been taken before Emily died in 1848. "

Why before? ;) It could be a convincingly life-like post-mortem daguerreotype (by far, my favorite type of daguerreotype). :D
eldritchhobbit
Feb. 12th, 2014 06:05 pm (UTC)
Why before? ;) It could be a convincingly life-like post-mortem daguerreotype (by far, my favorite type of daguerreotype). :D

Once again, you remind me why you're one of my favorite people. :D

Yes. This.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )