The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

'Bless her!'

'Bless her!'

A typically quirky portrait from the studio of the great Oscar Rejlander. An inked inscription recto in the lower margin gives the title: 'Bless her!' However, according to Edgar Yoxall Jones (Father of Art Photography, 1973), the photograph's title is: 'She's Looking at Me, the Dear Creature'. This must be correct since Jones quotes an article from the British Journal of Photography (20 November 1868) in which a critic reviewing the portrait opined: 'The very idea of any "dear creature" looking even for a moment at such a hideous old rascal is highly ludicrous.'

Published as a carte-de-visite during the period when Rejlander's studio was on the top two floors of Albert Mansions on Victoria Street. A tall narrow white stucco structure that stood next to the Victoria Palace Theatre, opposite the main entrance to Victoria Station, the building was pulled down a few years ago.

Often called the father of art photography, Rejlander was a Swede who emigrated to England in 1839. He lived first in Lincoln and then in 1845 moved to Wolverhampton, finally settling in London in April or May 1862. Along with HP Robinson, he became one of the leading exponents of ‘high-art’ photography. His Two Ways of Life was a mammoth composite work which caused a sensation when it was exhibited in 1857. In addition to his art photography, Rejlander also advertised his availability as a commercial portraitist. Nevertheless, he died penniless in 1875 and was buried in London's Kensal Green Cemetery.

Code: 126239
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