Saturday 18 May 2013

The Spaniel from Annan

Here were have a finely dressed old gentleman together with his small Spaniel sitting on a chair beside him. The dark wood chair contrasts nicely with the lighter coat of the dog.

With limited information there are several things which can help us to estimate the date this photograph was taken. The simple props & backdrop as well as the thin cardstock the photograph is mounted on both point to the photograph having been taken in the early 1870s.

The photographer is William Elliot Irving. He opperated his studio in Poplar Place, The High Street, Annan in Dumfries, Scotland between 1874 and 1889.

 Turn of the century view of the High Street, Annan

A Short Family History of William Elliot Irving

William was born in Annan in 1837, the second son of John the Shoemaker (born 1804) and Margaret (born abt 1799). William had an elder brother called Archibold who emigrated to Canada to become a farmer. Archibold and his wife Jennett went on to have a large family (nine children by 1881!) In comparison it would seem William never married and while working as a Photographer was still living with his parents aged 44, in 1881 along with his sister Jemina Sarah Irving who was working as the family housekeeper.

The reverse of the photograph mount, the Latin on the coat of arms "Nunquam non paratus" translated from Latin means: Never unprepared


Tuesday 14 May 2013

The Dalmatian and the Donkey

I do not have many 'outdoor' dog photographs in my collection and this one is particularly special. Here we have a Dalmatian sitting patiently on the back of a Donkey in the middle of a street in Angoulême, southwestern France.

The Dalmatian wears a deep studded leather collar which reminds me of the type of collar which is now fashionable for Lurchers and Greyhounds. The Dalmatian's ears are closely cropped, this practice was popular at the start of the 19th century. Ear Cropping was banned in England in 1899, but not in France until 1st of January 2010 so it is not surprising to find this photographic example of a cropped eared french Dalmatian.

1804 Engraving of a cropped eared Dalmatian by J. Scott

You can see how the photographer Henry Billard kept his subjects entertained during the photograph's exposure; the little girl holds a tray of food for the Donkey, which also keeps a just visible second Dalmatian standing still.

Robert Leighton writes in Dogs and All About Them in 1910 about the Dalmatian & Equine relationship:

[Originally] the Dalmatian was known as the Coach Dog, a name appropriately derived from his fondness for following a carriage, for living in and about the stable, and for accompanying his master's horses at exercise. He appears almost to prefer equine to human companionship, and he is as fond of being among horses as the Collie is of being in the midst of sheep.

It is no wonder the Dalmatian is so at ease with the Donkey. I have found some other examples of photographs taken by Henry Billard in 1893 of the market at Angoulême which also feature Donkeys, you can see them here.

 The reverse of the photograph showing the photographers details