Carte de Visite by a Somewhat Less Young–but Still Rather Young–John Holyland

In 1865, at the age of 24, Baltimore photographer John Holyland sold the Washington, DC studio that his father had purchased for him and returned to the Monument city.

Young Holyland bought the J. H. Young studio at 205 West Baltimore Street–the same studio where only a few years before he had first learned the photographic craft.

The back-mark on this carte de visite says “Holyland’s (Late Young’s) Gallery,” so it probably dates from within a short time after Holyland came back to Baltimore.

Since there is no revenue stamp, it must have been taken after the tax ceased being collected on 1 August 1866.

The young lady may be posed so as to feature the ring on her left hand–possibly an engagement ring. Her hands stand out against the dark stuff of her full-skirted dress.

Carte de Visite by a Very Young John Holyland

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Thanks to its cancelled revenue stamp, this carte de visite can be dated to January 1865.  John Holyland (1841-1931) would have been only 24 when he made it.

Holyland was born in Burlington County, New Jersey, and  spent most of his career in Baltimore.  But according to a biographical sketch reprinted by Baltimore photography historian Ross Kelbaugh,  Holyland’s father Charles, an English-born engraver, bought a gallery in Washington for John when the youth had only been learning the photography trade for a few years, in the gallery of J. H. Young.

Holyland had not yet adopted the distinctive back-mark seen on most of his work: a sun-like disk or medallion radiating rays of light, surmounted by a snake-twined Christian cross.

In July of 1865, John Holyland married his cousin, Rebecca Hart, and returned to Baltimore, where he bought Young’s gallery and studio on 231 West Baltimore Street.

The image above reflects all of the conventions of 1860s studio photography: drapery, a diamond-motif tile floor,  and a chair on which the subject could steady himself.