Another Victorian Tea Portrait and Laughing Victorians

SCN_0086-001I have said on here before how much I love looking at old photographs, and how much of an inspiration they are to me in my work (obviously!). Often though, particularly in Victorian photos, where the subjects and sitters often look distant, awkward and a bit stiff (it’s the eyes – they look strangely sharp and far-looking all at the same time), it’s easy to think of the people in them as something ‘other’ – products of their long-ago period, so totally different to us here and now. To me, they are no less evocative for these things, but there is still a distance between them and me.
But every now and then I come across an old picture that breaks the stereotypical mould – a Victorian family messing around together, pulling funny faces for the camera, laughing, joking, even caught mid-sneeze; basically, doing ordinary everyday things and interacting in ways that people have always done and still do today, but which we somehow don’t expect of Victorians when we think of them in their supposedly uptight era. It’s such a joy to see a photo from over a hundred years ago and connect with it, recognise something in it from your own life and feel that maybe that century-plus gap isn’t so wide after all.

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