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WINDOW & GROVE - LONDON (1873-1908)
One of the earliest photography studios in London to open on Baker Street was the firm of Window & Grove. The business began at 63a Baker Street W., Portman Square, in 1873, and took over the entire building in 1889. In 1902, Window & Grove opened a studio at 58 Westbourne Grove, and operated there until 1908.
Frederick Richard Window was the inventor of the cabinet card. Feeling limited by the scale of the carte de visite, he invented a sliding box design camera in 1861, with separate lens mounted to replace the front of his moveable camera box. Window's larger size camera allowed greater detail for his portraits. The 4 1/4 X 6 1/2 cabinet card was introduced in 1866, specifically for portraits, and Window promoted the larger portrait format with printed advertisements throughout Europe.
H. Baden Pritchard visited the studio of Window & Grove in preparation of his book, Studios of Europe, 1882, and was guided through the business by Mr. Grove (William Henry Grove). He explained that the studio only made one size negative suited for the cabinet card, and employed both gelatin and wet collodian plates. Cabinet cards were either albumen or platinum prints. They also produced carbon portrait enlargements on paper measuring 15 to 20 inches. Red carbon portraits were also produced on porcelain. Mr. Grove was the expert who oversaw the carbon printing processes.
Pritchard commented about the small size of the establishment at 63 Baker Street. The posing room was on second floor and supplies and developing were located on the street level. Whistles were used to notify the camera operator that the negatives were of a quality that the sitter could be excused from the session. A dumb-waiter was used to send camera plates between the floors and apparently also served as the sound chamber for the whistle signals.
Window & Grove attracted large number of celebrities to the business during their years of operation. The National Portrait Gallery of Britain displays eighty-three cdv and cbc images on its website.
Pritchard, Michael A Directory of London Photographers 1841-1908 (Watford, Photoresearch)
Pritchard, H. Baden Studios of Europe (London, Piper & Carter, 1882)
[Contributed by T. Max Hochstetler, March 31, 2008]