The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Cullercoats fisherwomen, 1865

Cullercoats fisherwomen, 1865

A carte-de-visite portrait of two fishwives from Cullercoats in northeast England.

The wives and daughters of local fishermen mended nets, gathered mussels and baited their men's hooks. They also carried the fish to market to sell them. According to a guidebook of 1842: 'When fish are scarce, they not unfrequently carried a load on their shoulders, weighing between three and four stone, to Newcastle, which is about ten miles distant from Cullercoats, in the hope of meeting a better market'. The Cullercoat Fish Lass became a popular subject for photographers and artists. When Winslow Homer resided in the town from the spring of 1881 to November 1882, he painted many portraits of its inhabitants, particularly the women, whom he depicted cleaning fish, mending nets, and most poignantly, standing at the water's edge awaiting the return of their men. In 1913 another travel writer wrote that 'The Cullercoats fishwife, with her cheerful, weather-bronzed face, her short jacket and ample skirts of blue flannel, and her heavily laden creel of fish is not only appreciated by the brotherhood of brush and pencil, but is one of the notable sights of the district'.

Photographer unidentified.

Code: 122872
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