I was fortunate to acquire two cabinet card photographs of the same young couple, both taken at the Julius Hebbel Studio on North Gay Street ca. 1896-1905.
Here, a young married couple is portrayed with a vignetted bust pose in which the figures nearly fill the horizontal frame. The post just previous displays and discusses this couple’s full-length standing wedding portrait.
According to clothing historian Joan Severa, the balloon-like leg o’mutton sleeve reached its apogee and then began to deflate ca. 1895-1896. The sleeves on this young matron’s white dress appear, then, to be post-1896: still puffed at the shoulder, with elaborate lace trimmings on shoulder and bodice.
While hard to discern because of fading, the dress may have a “bertha” collar, which Severa defines as “a deep fall of lace or silk, usually gathered, of equal length all around and set on with the top edge of the shoulder-line” (Dressed for the Photographer, 541).
Her hairstyle, pulled tightly back with soft short bangs, was going out of fashion by 1896, says Severa. Bangs were beginning to be “flattened down from a central part into waves along the temples” (Dressed for the photographer, 470).
The couple chose the same card mount for this later photograph as for their wedding portrait: black, with gold serrated edges and gilt lettering, ca. 1890-1900.
If you compare the tone of the two prints, this one appears much less golden-hued than their wedding portrait. Hebbel may have chosen the newer, faster-exposing dry gelatin bromide plate for this photograph, which was widely available by 1895.
The back of the card mount features advertising that fills the entire space. Its Beaux Arts frame of living branches encloses a tableau of trailing morning glories, a camera accompanied by an artist’s palette, and examples of the photographer’s work. This common visual trope associated the photographic craft with the fine arts and suggested the camera’s superior capacity to capture nature.