Mayall, A daguerreotype portrait of Catherine Dickens, 1853-55, together with two Italian Opera passes.
Lot 1Y
John Jabez Edwin Mayall (British, 1810-1901) Profile portrait of Catherine Dickens, 1852-55
Sold for £8,750 (US$ 14,284) inc. premium

Lot Details
Mayall, A daguerreotype portrait of Catherine Dickens, 1853-55, together with two Italian Opera passes. Mayall, A daguerreotype portrait of Catherine Dickens, 1853-55, together with two Italian Opera passes. Mayall, A daguerreotype portrait of Catherine Dickens, 1853-55, together with two Italian Opera passes. Mayall, A daguerreotype portrait of Catherine Dickens, 1853-55, together with two Italian Opera passes. Mayall, A daguerreotype portrait of Catherine Dickens, 1853-55, together with two Italian Opera passes. Mayall, A daguerreotype portrait of Catherine Dickens, 1853-55, together with two Italian Opera passes. Mayall, A daguerreotype portrait of Catherine Dickens, 1853-55, together with two Italian Opera passes. Mayall, A daguerreotype portrait of Catherine Dickens, 1853-55, together with two Italian Opera passes.
John Jabez Edwin Mayall (British, 1810-1901)
Profile portrait of Catherine Dickens, 1852-55
Quarter-plate daguerreotype, mounted as oval in gilt mount. The photographer's studio credit stamp '224 Regent St/(Argyll Place)/Mayall/&/433 West Strand' in gilt on the reverse of the morocco case.
Accompanied by two ivory passes for the Royal Italian Opera, 1870, inscribed 'Chas. Dickens Esq.' and 'Miss Dickens', each approx. 3.7cm (1 7/16in) diameter.
Plate 10.5 x 8.3cm (4 1/8 x 3 1/4in), case 13.5 x 11.5cm (5 5/16 x 4 1/2in).

Footnotes

  • Literature:
    Axon, C., 'The Daguerreotype of Catherine Dickens', in The Dickensian, 1997, pp.89-93
    Hawksley, L., Katey: the lifes and loves of Dickens's artist daughter (London: Doubleday, 2006), p.104
    Nayder, L., The other Dickens: a life of Catherine Hogarth (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011), p.215, fig. 13
    Slater, M., 'Catherine Dickens in the Early 1850s: A Newly-discovered image', in The Dickensian, Summer 1997, No. 442, Vol. 93, Part 2, pp.85-88
    Slater, M., Charles Dickens: a life defined by writing (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), plate 62

    This striking daguerrotype portrait of Catherine Dickens first came to light in 1996, discovered in an antique camera shop in Canterbury and originally believed to be an image of Charles Dickens's sister, Fanny. Discussions between the owner of the photograph and leading Dickens scholars soon identified the sitter as the writer's wife, Catherine (nee Hogarth).

    The portrait shows Catherine approaching her fortieth year and at a time when her life with Charles Dickens was unravelling. Exhausted by many years of childbearing and by marriage to an increasingly restless husband, who had begun to look elsewhere for female company, she appears a sadder figure than the images we have of her earlier in life. She nonetheless retains a token of her youth in the ringletted hair just visible beneath her bonnet.

    This is the only daguerreotype portrait of Catherine known to exist.

    The daguerreotype was discovered with two ivory passes for the 1870 Italian Opera inside its case. Offered here alongside the photograph, the tokens appear to have lain undisturbed inside the case for some time, as their imprints can be seen in the velvet lining. The 'Miss Dickens' inscription on one of the two suggests that the daguerreotype may once have belonged to the couple's eldest daughter Mary, known as Mamie. In 1870 Dickens rented a house in Hyde Park Gardens, in part as a base for his Farewell Readings, but also so that Mamie could experience the delights of the London Season.

    The earliest date for the portrait can be given as 1852 from the patent date 'Reg July 20 1852' visible on the catch of the morocco-bound case. The photographer's studio stamp on the reverse of the case suggests that, at latest, the sitting can have taken place in the first half of 1855, as in June of that year Mayall sold his 433 West Strand studio to his assistant Jabez Hughes.

    Mayall had operated a studio at West Strand since 1847 and opened the 224 Regent Street premises in 1853. The surviving letters of Charles Dickens reveal that he sat for Mayall in 1852 and there are suggestions that subsequent sittings occurred. A daguerreotype portrait of a gentleman by Mayall, identified as Charles Dickens and dated c. 1853-55, was sold at Christie's in London in 2001. Of similar mounting and style, with the face shown in left profile, it is conceivable that this and the present lot were intended as a pair and that the couple visited Mayall's studio together during this period.

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