|Contents||This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated. |
Status: Collect > Document > Analyse > Improve
979.01 Portrait > Introduction to occupationals
Every occupation has its own photographic history and these visually rich stories reflect the prevailing photographic styles and the techniques and processes of the time they were taken. Comprehensive studies of the occupational types of a country or region are rare and the work of August Sander in Germany in the 1920s and 30s is an often-cited example..
Those not wearing their leisure clothing are usually wearing the clothing of their occupation but this does not mean that any picture of an adult is collectable. The key is where the clothing is a uniform, for example military, firemen, sailors or has characteristics that only apply a specific occupation or the subject of the image is shown with items of their trade. A bricklayer with bricks and a hod has more evidence than a person standing in dust covered clothing. A politician is difficult to tell from an author or a spy unless there is additional evidence.
As photography spread around the world during the nineteenth century it went along with the growth of European empires, foreign trade and travel. As the barriers to travel reduced so the need for souvenirs rose along with anthropologists and ethnographers seeking photographic records on their subjects of interest. Scientists collected photographs and local photographers recognised these markets and provided sets of images of "types" (Spanish - Tipos) showing characteristic occupations. Photographers such as Christiano Júnior in Brazil, François Aubert) and Merille in Mexico created tipos long before August Sander in Germany.
Many nineteenth century occupationals were taken in photographic studios rather than the natural working environment of those photographed. They are fabrications or reality. If we look at a number of photographs of porters we can see studio props, painted backgrounds and studio walls.
Occupationals using different techiques
979.02 Portrait > Daguerreotypes: Occupations and roles
Occupational daguerreotypes of women are far less common than those of men and this may be a reflection of gender-based attitudes to work in the nineteenth century.
979.03 Portrait > Carte de visites: Occupations and roles
979.04 Portrait > William Carrick: Russian occupationals
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer
William Carrick was a Scottish-born photographer whose family were in the Russian timber business. In 1857 he studied photography in Edinburgh with James Good Tunny and then returned to St. Petersburg where he set up a studio with John MacGregor. Carrick, like J. Monstein, made and extensive series of carte de visite occupational portraits of Russian types.
An illustration A Few Russian Photographs, published in Good Words on 1st October 1870, used photographs by William Carrick as we can see from surviving carte de visites.
979.05 Portrait > J. Monstein: Russian types
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer
Little is known of J. Monstein of Moscow. His name suggests that he might have been German, and indeed, all the inscriptions pencilled on the back of his carte de visites – at least, the ones in this collection - are written in German, in the Gothic alphabet then still in use.
979.06 Portrait > Tintypes: Occupationals
As with all other periods occupational portraits were a common theme for tintypes.  Tintypes were also used for buttons of politicians including Abraham Lincoln and General Grant.
979.07 Portrait > Cabinet cards: Occupations and roles
Case studies of specific occupations
979.08 Portrait > Turkey: Porters
979.09 Portrait > Street vendors
979.10 Portrait > Bootblacks and shoeshines
979.11 Portrait > Water carriers
Within a single class of occupationals regional and gender differences are frequently clear. Within the photographs of water carriers there are the commercial water carriers of North Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent where in men have their goat-skin bags for commercial sale and women have smaller metal or pottery pots for domestic use.
979.12 Portrait > Samurai
In history, literaure, art, folkore and religion the Samurai have been a core component of Japanese culture. Photographs of the Samurai by foreign photographers resident in Japan such as Felice Beato, Baron Raimund von Stillfried and Adolfo Farsari along with those by Japanese photographers such as Kusakabe Kimbei recorded the armour and weapons at a time when Japanese society was undergoing the immense changes of Meiji Restoration of 1868. Effectively the Meiji Restoration broke the power of the SamuraI class by taxing their stipends, removing their rights to carry weapons and allowing lower class peasants into a reformed military with nationwide conscription. The loss of financial stability and status within the Samurai class led to rebellion and upheaval. Speaking of Tosa in 1877 one contemporary account states:
Last month the photograph of the Emperor was exhibited to the people in the public garden. The samurai availed themselves of the occasion to create a row by throwing stones at the troops of the garrison, and causing a fight which was only quelled by the intervention of the members of the Tokio police stationed at Kfichi.
Photographs of Samurai are therefore important as historical documents but also they are reminders of nationalistic pride.
979.13 Portrait > Geishas
Geisha are female entertainers in Japan normally highly skilled in classical dance and dance, storytelling and games. Although there are exceptions there is a distinction between geishas and cortesans or prostitutes. Seen as a novelty in the nineteenth century and with a sense of the exotic geisha were widely photographed.
The first-class or "number one" geisha, as they are called in the vernacular, are only a little less seldom seen by the " globe-trotting" foreigner than the lady of aristocratic lineage, for the charges for their services are very high, and they do not care to lower their standing by being hired in a chance way by ordinary foreigners or common Japanese. Their services are frequently arranged for weeks in advance, so that money alone cannot always command their presence.
A "number one" geisha must be cultivated and well read besides being able to dance and sing. Gentlemen who are giving dinner-parties or entertaining guests engage two or three or more geisha to come and amuse the company. They sing, dance, and talk, play various little games with their hands and fingers, and tell stories—anything, in fact, which seems to interest and amuse their patrons.
979.14 Portrait > Courtesans
The "Oiran" were the courtesans of Japan and have a long history. Merriam-Webster defines a courtesan as "a woman who has sex with rich or important men in exchange for money: a prostitute who has sex with wealthy and powerful men". This raises the question of who applied the captions to the photographs and what proof is there that the people depicted were courtesans? Were there any clues in the clothing, adornment, hairstyles or make-up that would prove the women depicted were courtesans? In one book it points out how they can be recognised:
The Eastern courtesan is confined to a certain quarter of the town, and distinguished by a peculiarly gaudy costume, and by a headdress which consists of a forest of light tortoiseshell hair-pins, stuck round her head like a saint’s glory—a glory of shame which a modest woman would sooner die than wear.
There were other characteristics such as the way her obi was tied into a bow that distinguished her from other women.
- Λ August Sander, 1929, Antlitz der Zeit, (Munich: Transmare and Kurt Wolff); August Sander, 1986, August Sander: Citizens of the Twentieth Century: Portrait Photographs 1892–1952, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) [Edited by Gunther Sander]; August Sander, 1980, August Sander: Photographs of an Epoch. 1904–1959, (Millerton, NY: Aperture) [Preface by Beaumont Newhall; historical commentary by Robert Kramer]; Manfred Heiting (ed.), 1999, August Sander 1876–1964, (New York: Taschen)
- Λ Further examples of daguerreotype occupationals, especially of women and children, are requested - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Λ Felicity Ashbee, 1978, ‘William Carrick: A Scots Photographer in St. Petersburg (1827-1878)‘, History of Photography, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 207-222
- Λ W.R.S. Ralston, 1 October 1870, "A Few Russian Photographs", Good Words, pp. 667-673. Includes an interested article on the subject.
- Λ Michael L. Carlebach, 2002, Working Stiffs: Occupational Portraits in the Age of Tintypes, (Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press)
- Λ Examples of political buttons for Abraham Lincoln include: Boston Public Library, Print Department, File name: 07_05_000039; one by Anthony Berger, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-19441; and one by Mathew B. Brady, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division , Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-19442
- Λ A campaign tintype button of General Grant for the 1868 Presidential election is at: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Ambrotype/Tintype filing series (Library of Congress) (DLC) 2010650518 Liljenquist Family collection (Library of Congress) (DLC) 2010650519
- Λ Stephen Turnbull, 2004, Samurai: The Story of Japan's Great Warrior, (PRC Publishing), Mitsuo Kure, 2002 , Samurai: An Illustrated History, (Tuttle Publishing)
- Λ The Meiji Restoration restored Imperial rule to Japan removing the powers of the Shoguns.
W. Beasley, 1972, The Meiji Restoration, (Stanford University Press), Marius B. Jansen, 2002, The Making of Modern Japan, (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press)
- Λ Dec. 22, 1877, The Japan Weekly Mail, p. 1155
- Λ Stanley B. Burns & Elizabeth A. Burns, 2006, Geisha: A Photographic History, 1872–1912, (Brooklyn, N.Y.: powerHouse Books)
- Λ Helen Gregory-Flesher, 1893, "The Professional Beauties of Japan", The Californian, vol. IV, no. 5, p. 643-660
- Λ Cecilia Segawa Seigle, 1993, Yoshiwara: The Glittering World of the Japanese Courtesan, (University of Hawaii Press)
- Λ If you have information on how the clothing, adornment, hairstyles or make-up of a nineteenth century woman in Japan would show she was a courtesan I'd be interested - email@example.com
- Λ A.B. Mitford, 1871, Tales of Old Japan, (Macmillan), vol. 1, p. 59
- Λ Henry Norman, 1893, The Real Japan: Studies of Contemporary Japanese Manners, Morals, Administration, and Politics, (T.F. Unwin), p. 292
Rosen, Steve, 2011, I Listen to the Wind That Obliterates My Traces: Music in Vernacular Photographs 1880-1955, (Dust-To-Digital) isbn-10: 0981734243 isbn-13: 978-0981734248 [Δ]
Readings on, or by, individual photographers
Lewis W. Hine
Hine, Lewis W., 1932, Men at Work, (New York: The Macmillan Company) [Δ]
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - firstname.lastname@example.org
Erna Lendvai-Dircksen (1883-1962)
|Home > Themes > Portrait > Occupations and roles |