Victorian women and the hand-embellished photograph album : a case study of the Bouverie album
thesisposted on 24.05.2021, 10:38 by Alison SkyrmeAlison Skyrme
The Bouverie album, held in the photography collection at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film is a hand-embellished photographic collage album from the late Victorian period. The volume contains over 200 albumen prints (mainly form un-mounted cartes-de-visite) that have been trimmed from their backgrounds and mounted into elaborate and fanciful scenes. Family members and friends star in comical tennis matches and tours of ruins and trimmed portraits are suspended from plants like fruit or surrounded by bouquets of highly detailed flowers. The time that was invested into the creation this object is incredible and the skill and attention to detail make it a rare and valuable object, to both photographic and cultural historians. This thesis explores the hand-embellished photograph album as its own genre, studying its influences, precursors and role within Victorian society. The album also offers clues to the role of women, evidence of the concept of florigraphy and, as many family photograph albums do, offers an interesting look at family roles. The following paper considers each one of these elements, and examines the album in comparison to other types of photo albums and personal books such as commonplace and scrapbooks. The similarities and differences between this genre of album and its precursors, and the peculiarities of this one in particular are discussed. I also closely examined several of the scenes, unpacking some of the historical and cultural information held within. This thesis demonstrates the historical importance of objects such as this one. The mixed media used means they require careful handling and preservation techniques particular to their structure in order to ensure that they will be available to future researchers. The final chapter of this thesis makes storage and handling suggestions in order to ensure the preservation of objects such as this one, including a discussion of surrogates and a description of an album housing (a modified clam shell box) that reduces the amount of handling the object receives.