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The Barraud Family as Photographers

Part I

Every record collector knows Francis Barraudís painting, "His Masterís Voice", but not so well known is the fact that Francis was also a photographer, along with other members of the Barraud family.

Recently, I purchased two volumes containing photos taken at two of the Barraud Photographic Studios. The volumes are dated 1888 and 1890, and both volumes are titled "Men and Women of the Day". Each volume contains about thirty-five mounted studio photos, which appear to be printed from the original negatives. All are in excellent condition and are in sepia tones.

The mounting card for each photo measures 10" x 14" and the photo size is 7" x 9.5". Each photo is followed by a four-page biography of the sitter, written in flowery Victorian prose.

On the lower left-hand corner of each mounting board the following words are printed: "Barraud, 263 Oxford Street, London and 92 Bold Street, Liverpool". The London studio was run by Herbert Barraud, and Francis Barraud and his brother Philip ran the Liverpool studio.

During the years covered by these two volumes Nipper was living at the Liverpool address. Unfortunately, he does not appear in any of the photos.

Also unfortunately, there is no indication as to which studio took which picture, or who clicked the shutter, but whoever they were they did a professional job. The photos are superb and the clientele was "top- drawer".

Fig. 1
Lady Randolph Churchill
Fig. 2
W.S. Gilbert
Fig. 3
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Fig. 4
Frances Hodgson Burnett

Lady Randolph Churchill, Winstonís mother, stares out at us with dark piercing eyes. (She was part Iroquois.) (Fig. 1) W.S. Gilbert has an air of confidence suitable to a man whose lyrics from H.M.S. Pinafore and The Gondoliers were known by nearly every person in the English-speaking world. (Fig.2)

Alfred Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate of England, once described as "The Dirty Monk", appears as his usual unkempt self. (Fig. 3) Tennyson came from Lincolnshire, which is in the north of England and near Liverpool, so it is quite possible that his photo was taken at the Liverpool studio. The same could be said for the Bishop of Liverpool who sports a magnificent white beard.

Cardinals Manning and Newman are photographed in old age, Newman being almost ninety and quite deaf. He is pictured with his hand cupped behind his left ear as if he were trying to catch instructions from the photographer.

The world of the theatre is represented by, among others, Henry Irving and his leading lady, Ellen Terry, who later became one of George Bernard Shaw's favourite actresses.

There are several musicians including Clara Schumann and Dr. Hans Richter, along with singers Sims Reeves, Charles Santley and Madame Roze. (Both the latter two singers recorded, although Madam Rozeís recordings have not been preserved as far as I am aware. However, she was a very beautiful woman, and George Bernard Shaw said that he would go to the opera wearing earplugs just to see her walk across the stage.)

Authors and poets include Robert Browning, H. Rider-Haggard (King Solomonís Mines) and Frances Hodgson Burnett, a huge woman who signed her letters, "from your little sparrow" and who wrote Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Little Princess. (Fig. 4)

Part II

The two photographic studios of the Barraud family, Francis and Philip in Liverpool, and Herbert in London, England, turned out an amazing group of portraits of upper class society in the years 1888 to 1892. Some of the photos have Canadian connections. The Earl of Dufferin became Canadaís Governor General from 1872 to 1878. His wife, the Countess of Dufferin, was a very talented woman. She wrote a book called Canadian Journal, and she was an excellent watercolour painter. The Barraud portrait shows her resting her elbows on a standard studio prop (Fig 5). The Canadians named a train after her.

Major General Garnet Wolseley, who was sent to Canada to face Louis Riel in the first Red River Rebellion, is photographed in later middle age when his former fame had been diminished. Gilbert and Sullivan used him as their model for "a Modern Major General" in The Pirates of Penzance (Fig. 6). There is another photograph that has a Gilbert and Sullivan connection. Captain Shaw was founder and head of Londonís Fire Brigade. In the operetta, lolanthe, the fairy queen, falls in love with a human which was against the rules of Fairyland. She appeals to the real Captain Shaw for help:

O, Captain Shaw!
Type of true love kept under!
Could thy brigade
With cold cascade,
Quench my true love, I wonder?

The Barraud photograph shows a rather shy man in an ill-fitting uniform (Fig. 7).

Fig. 5
Countess of Dufferin
Fig. 6
Maj Gen Garnet Wolseley
Fig. 7
Captain Shaw
Fig. 8
W.G. Grace

The greatest name in the English sports world in the 1880s was that of W.G. Grace. He was the Babe Ruth of English cricket, and some of his feats have never been equalled. His beard was almost as famous as his achievements (Fig. 8).

My two volumes of Barraud photographs are labelled Volumes 1 and 3, and dated 1888 and 1890. The University of Texas in Austin owns Volume 2 which includes photos of Adeline Patti, the Shaw of Persia, and W.H. Smith, the bookseller upon whom Gilbert and Sullivan based their character, Sir Joseph Porter, the Admiral of the Fleet in H.M.S. Pinafore. The same University also has Volume 5, printed in 1892, by which time famous people must have been getting scarce. None of the sitters for that volume was known to me. Volume 4 remains illusive. I wonder what photos it contains ó Florence Nightingale? General "Chinese" Gordon? Sir Arthur Sullivan? Lewis Carroll? Sir Richard Burton?

Recently, I have seen several Barraud photographs reproduced in newspapers, magazines and books, but the Barraud name is nowhere to be seen. Instead, "Bettmann Archives" and "Getty Images". The Barraud name deserves to be better known, for not only do these photos give us first-rate portraits of English Society in the 1880s, but they also give evidence of a lesser-known activity of the very talented Barraud family.