Photo-dating with Jayne Shrimpton

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03 October 2014
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Waller-Gooch-Cameos-orig-224x300-30933.jpg Photo-dating with Jayne Shrimpton
Every issue family history photo-dating expert Jayne Shrimpton casts her knowledgeable eye over pictures that Family Tree&nb

Every issue family history photo-dating expert Jayne Shrimpton casts her knowledgeable eye over pictures that Family Tree readers have sent in. Unfortunately we do receive a huge number of photo-dating queries, and just can’t squeeze them all into Family Tree, so please find an extra Family Tree reader’s photos and Jayne’s insightful answer below. You never know – the clues she gives may help you date family pictures of your own. Enjoy!

Q I have obtained a copy of a rather unusual old picture in the form of a collection of portraits (probably from cameos or miniatures), arranged around a larger central one. These people relate to my maternal ancestors connected to my Gooch family of Suffolk and Cornwall. Could you suggest a date range for the person in the large central image from his dress style and appearance? I attach an enhanced copy of this image and a copy of the entire group. Comments about any of the other images in the group would also be appreciated.

George Waller

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A This is a ‘composite’ portrait – a collection of separate portraits displayed together in the one picture. This sort of work, published, for example, by stationers, was popular especially in the later 18th and 19th centuries, when it was fashionable to collect likenesses of figures from history. Typically these would be famous personalities, but presumably it was also possible to have a composite picture made of one’s ancestors.

The different portraits in this composite picture range in date from the early-1500s/Tudor period (eg No.4) to the later 1700s (eg No.1). The evidence of dress and hairstyle indicates that the larger central portrait is from the 1640s or 1650s - the era of the Civil War in Britain. Presumably that gentleman is the focal subject of this collection and may hold the key to the identities of all the other subjects.