Sunday, April 10, 2011

Celebrities and their Photographs.

Celebrities and their Photographs.

Mr Downey, the photographer (says a writer in a London paper), is probably acquainted with more well-known people from European Sovereigns down to cannibal chiefs, than anybody in this country. When I went to interview him he was engaged with two Princes and the eldest son of the King of Siam, and a little later on our conversation was disturbed by the commands of another member of the Royal family. This particular Vanity Fair is composed of gorgeous saloons where Royalty and the aristocracy are wont to wait while the cameraman adjusts his lens.

"Nearly every living celebrity has been here to be photographed," said , Mr Downey, "and we have had visits from every member of the Royal family with, the exception of the Queen, who always commands our presence. Her Majesty is one of the most patient sitters I know, and has no objection to using the head-rest. Of other monarchs I have photographed three Sultans of Turkey, two German Emperors, two Czars of Russia, and the King of the Belgians.

"The most difficult subject we ever had was Lord Beaconsfield, who hated the idea of being taken, and it was only at the urgent request of the Queen that he consented. However, when he did arrive he was wearing a very light check suit which would have spoilt any photograph; so I asked him to come again. He did so; but the day was very dark, and I had to take his likeness out of doors. It was raining at the time, and the ex-Premier insisted on having someone to hold an umbrella over him!

"Mr Gladstone stipulates that his photographs shall be sold for sixpence a piece, and as they cannot be done at the price he seldom comes. Lord Rosebery has a great objection to being photographed. However, the demand for statesman's portraits is very small now.

William Ewart Gladstone (29 December 1809 – 19 May 1898)
by W & D Downey, 9 Eldon Square, Newcastle on Tyne.
albumen carte-de-visite

"Mr Gladstone's and Lord Salisbury's sell well, and on Primrose Day there is a demand for Lord Beasonsfield's. In fact, the trade in men's photographs, is seldom brisk. Lords Roberts and Wolseley are the best of the military men; and Irving as Cardinal Wolsey, Wilson Barrett, Beerhohm Tree as Hamlet, and William Terris of the actors.

"Of some actresses I have as many as a hundred negatives. At present Miss Marie Studholm (sic) is the reigning beauty, and she is the subject of any number of pictures. The photograph of Miss Belle Bilton also sold extensively after she become Countess of Clancarty. The demand for actresses' photographs has declined very much since the illustrated papers took to reproducing them so well.

"The Queen's, the Princess of Wales's and the Duchess of Fife's photographs sell better than any, but the most popular portrait that ever existed is that of the Princess of Wales with the Duchess of Fife, when she was a baby, on her back. Over three hundred thousand of these were sold, and now there is a big sale for the Duchess of Fife with her own baby on her back.

The 1867 portrait by W. & D. Downey of the Princess of Wales carrying her baby the Princess Louise her back sold over 300,000 copies.

"In nearly every case members of the royal family make a point of being photographed in their plainest clothes. This reminds me that some time back I took the portrait of a lady, then dancing at one the London music-halls, while she was wearing £50,000 worth of jewels. They were her own, too, and I may tell you that on one hand she was wearing fifteen "rings."

Mr Downey, besides being a photographer, is a manufacturer of beauty and youth. You can have a sovereign's worth, or if you want to be exceptionally pretty you may have to pay a five-pound note. You can, in fact, have as much beauty as you like in the way of the touching-up of your photograph.

Star (Christchurch, New Zealand), Issue 4925, 14 April 1894, Page 2

A pose similar to the W. & D. Downey photograph is shown in this carte-de-visite by L. Werner of Dublin.

No comments:

Post a Comment