Tuesday 3 November 2015

The Old Lady Who Was Really A Dog

No your eyes are not deceiving you, what we have here is not a delicate old lady, but a little terrier dressed up! The shoulder of the dog's owner can just be seen on the right as they hide behind the carefully placed fabric curtain to hold the dog up for the exposure.

The Victorian era was one where the relationships & connections between the human and animal kingdom were hotly debated. In art and literature the dog became symbol that could represent any number of values and social stereotypes. Depictions of anthropomorphic dogs (dressed as humans) helped the anti-vivisection movement of the time to bring the debate on animal treatment to a wide audience.

Illustrations by Victorian Illustrator Harrison Weir, c1870s

With the photograph I'm certain however there was no bigger social commentary going on, just a bit of fun! Who won't want to see if their favourite pet suited a dress and bonnet?

The photograph was taken in London by Bertollé & Son's Studio, 268 Caledonian Road, Islington. The Studio was operated by photographer James Parton until 1857 when he was succeed by James Bertollé.

The Studio stayed in the Bertollé family, and his son, James Lewis William Bertollé continued the business, with his own son joining him in 1890 (another James!) James Charles Bertollé.

James Lewis was a banjoist as well as a photographer, teaching James Charles to play the instrument at an early age. By 1897 James Charles was not only working as a photographer with his father but playing banjo concerts and teaching between 30 and 40 banjo lessons per week. The Studio at Caledonian road must have been very busy! At the studio they also sold "Dexter" banjo's, named after James Charles' banjo duet band name "The Dexters".

The Studio at 268 Caledonian road is still standing, and is now several grade-II listed flats.

 260 to 268 Caledonian Road

                                                                    The reverse of the photograph mount


Saturday 30 May 2015

The St. Bernard Puppy of Southport

A tiny little girl sits on an seemingly enormous cushion with her St Bernard Puppy in this portrait from the 1880s. Which one of them is the cutest is difficult to decide. Perhaps the proportions of this young pup, with his huge, chunky paws will sway your decision!

The photographer Lambert Partington was born in Lancashire, son of John & Harriet in 1840. He married Mary Hannah in 1875 and they had three children - Edith Emily (born about 1878), Lilian (born about 1879) and Harriett (born 1884). In their early twenties whilst still living at home the two eldest sisters worked as photographic assistants for their father.

The Studio where the photograph was taken on Bath Street, was in operation under the Partington name from 1871 to 1921

This pup looks like he just stepped out from one of Dutch artist Otto Eerelman's 19th century dog portraits. Just like Saint-Bernard Puppies painted in 1904, shown below.

Eerelman had a real talent in rendering the lighthearted, cheerful natures of these pups, with their soft fur, in just a few simple brushstrokes.


Wednesday 11 March 2015

The Scottish Terrier : A Breed of Two Types

This year's Best in Show Crufts winner was a Scottish Terrier Champion McVan's from Russia with love, or "Knopa" to her family. If you could say anything about this dog, apart from her good looks, it would be that she is extremely well traveled. A natvie Scottish breed, bred in the USA who lives in Russia and came all the way to England to compete in the world's biggest dog show. It is for Knopa that I write this post, about a Scotty in my archive who is perhaps one of the Champion's distant ancestors.

Over 100 years ago a well-to-do lady took her two beloved companions with her to the photographers studio to have their portrait taken. Once of these dogs, a Border Collie was unable to sit still for the duration of the photographic exposure, but the other dog, a Scotty, managed to stay perfectly still & alert for his big moment.

For the photograph the pair of dogs had their leather muzzles removed so their faces could be better seen.  I have looked at this photograph many times and wondered why the muzzles were left in the foreground of the image. Perhaps the owner used them as a warning to the dogs that they would be put straight back on if they did not behave for the photographer! The photographer in question was J. A. Latter. He operated his Studio in St Mary's Road in Wallingford, Oxfordshire between 1899 & 1911 so we can date this photograph between those years.

 If we look at a photograph by Darren Staples taken of Knopa on her winning evening at Crufts and compare it to the 1900's Scotty, you can see how the breed has been developed and altered over the years.

As with many dog breed's the exact origin of the Scottish terrier was the subject of much debate in the 1870's. As interest in dogs in general grew there was a need to classify individual varieties. The Scotty of the early 1900's was of mixed heritage, descended from a number of different Scottish working terriers. There were two types of dogs in particular which were particular important to the development of the breed; the Aberdeen Terrier and the Highland Terrier.

The British Museum holds within its natural history collections a specimen of each of these types which you can see below. The Aberdeen Terrier is on the left and was given to the museum by the Royal Veterinary College in 1900. The Highland Terrier has a much smoother coat and can be seen on the right.

In 1890 the Kennel Club assumed overall control of pedigree registrations, and in 1892 The Scottish Terrier Club was formed and a breed standard was created for the Scottish Terrier.

Having started this post with a Scottish Terrier successful at a dog-show,  I'll end with another. Here is an engraving of "Granite" the first ever Scottish Terrier to be shown at a Kennel Club Show.


  • McVan's Scottish Terriers Website
  • Dogs of the last hundred years at the British Museum (Natural History), Kim Dennis-Bryan & Julier Clutton-Brock, 1988
  • Cassell's New Book of the Dog, Vol III, Robert Leighton, 1910
  • Oxfordshire County Council, History Centre, List of Oxford Photographers

Thursday 19 February 2015

The Cocker Spaniel Who Had Four Brothers

My first post in 2015 is a double! Featuring two photographs taken at the same time but featuring different poses.

In the first photograph four brothers pose together with their Cocker Spaniel- some of the brothers look more pleased to be having their photographs taken than others! Note the carefully arranged wooden building blocks on the table in the centre of the image.

In the second photograph the youngest (and most fidgety) of the brothers is posed on his own with the Cocker. This little boy obviously wasn't happy with the arrangement of the building blocks, having knocked them down and spread some of them on the floor as well!

I'm sure the sweet little Cocker was kept very busy by the four brothers. Known for their tireless energy and intelligence the Cocker is a perfect companion. I will at this point admit I am somewhat biased, having known many lovely Cockers in my life and currently owning one! (click here to see a photo of my working Cocker Hedley.)

This dark coloured Cocker certainly could do with a trim! The dog's face is narrow and quite delicate, and from this I would think it not unlikely that it is a female.

Photographer Henry Jonathan Hitchcock was born in Leicester in 1869. He married his wife Edith Mary Smith in October 1895 and they had two daughters. Henry opened his photographic studio in the family home at 64 Sparkenhoe Street in Leicester in 1899. My photographs date from circa 1902 when Hitchcock began using the name "Lawn Studio" which you can see on the mount of the photographs.

Want more Spaniels? Click here for my other Spaniel related articles on this website.


  • H. J. Hitchcock in the early photographers directory (Leicester)