Bringing the past to life with colour

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Nellie Bly

Nellie_Bly_2

Journalist, charity worker, writer, industrialist and inventor Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman, who wrote under the pen name Nellie Bly.

By the time of this photo, 1890, she had already made her two best known accomplishments. First, in 1887, feigned insanity to get herself committed to a lunatic asylum, so she could investigate reports of brutality and neglect. Then, in 1888, she made a record-setting circumnavigation of the world, inspired by Jules Verne’s “Around the World in Eighty Days“. She took only 72 days.

 

Nellie_Bly_2

Original sepia photo.

John Steed RIP

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Patrick Macnee, who died yesterday (25th June 2015) at the age of 93, in quite an early publicity shot for the TV series “The Avengers, which ran from 1961 to 1969, with an additional two series, “The New Avengers” from 1976 to 1977.

 

steed

Original B&W photo.

The King at the Front

George V drawing2

If this drawing of King George V, accompanied by his eldest son Edward Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII), visiting British troops on the Western Front in 1916, resembles a photo in any way, it is entirely due to the skill of the artist, Fortunino Matania.

Matania was famous for his realism, and his World War One drawings scored over photographs of that era because they didn’t look staged. If this had been a photo, most of the people in it would have been staring nervously at the camera!

 

George V drawing

Original drawing.

Victoria, the New Queen

queen victoria engraving

Queen Victoria’s reign began in 1837, two years before Louis Daguerre presented his daguerreotype process to the world so, although she was an “early adopter” of photography, the earliest photos of her, as far as I’m aware, are from a reconstruction of her wedding that she and her husband, Albert, undertook just to get the wedding album!

There were, of course, paintings, but I find engravings to be much more natural looking, and they are useful for me to practice on. Many photos are grainy or damaged, and some of the techniques for repairing them work on drawings too.

This engraving was made in 1868 in New York, but it depicts Victoria at around the time of her accession. The tiara she’s wearing looks like one Prince Albert gave her some time after they were married, in 1840, and I’ve coloured it accordingly, but it was probably a bit of artistic licence.

 

queen victoria engraving

Original sepia engraving.

Ellen Terry, Victorian Actress

Ellen_Terry_at_Age_Sixteen

I had to check this photo thoroughly to convince myself it wasn’t modern. Despite some fading and damage, it looks more like a 1970s picture than a photograph taken in 1864.

The woman is actress Ellen Terry who would later be considered the leading Shakespearean and comic actress in Britain, for over 20 years.

This photo was taken by Julia Margaret Cameron.  Terry met her during her first marriage, making her about 17 in this picture. The marriage took place in February 1864, a week before Terry’s 17th birthday, and lasted 10 months.

 

Ellen_Terry_at_Age_Sixteen

Original sepia photo.

The Incredible Shrinking Man

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Randy Stuart and Grant Williams in a scene from the 1957 film, “The Incredible Shrinking Man”

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Original B&W screencap.

The Christening of a King

Queen Victoria in 1894

Queen Victoria 1894

The official christening photos of Prince Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David of York, later to become, briefly, King Edward VIII.

Both photos show the matriarch, Queen Victoria, holding the baby. The first picture also has the baby’s father, the future George V and grandfather, the future Edward VII, The second has the baby’s mother, Mary of Teck, and Edward VII’s wife, Alexandra.

The baptism took place at White Lodge, Richmond Park, on 16 July 1894.

 

Queen Victoria in 1894
Queen Victoria 1894
Original B&W photos.

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