The Carlyles' Photograph Albums Butler Library, Columbia University

By Southern, David | Carlyle Studies Annual, January 1, 2009 | Go to article overview

The Carlyles' Photograph Albums Butler Library, Columbia University


Southern, David, Carlyle Studies Annual


ON MONDAY AND TUESDAY, 13 AND 14 JUNE 1932, SOTHEBY & Company auctioned at their Bond Street galleries more than three hundred lots described as "Printed Books, Autograph Letters, Literary Manuscripts, Oil Paintings, Drawings and Engravings, Works of Art, China, Furniture, &c. Formerly the Property of Thomas Carlyle, 1795-1881, and Now Sold by Order of the Executors of His Nephew, Alexander Carlyle."

Number 226 in the Sotheby catalog of the Carlyle auction is a most interesting lot:

PHOTOGRAPH ALBUMS. Containing many hundreds of photographs of Carlyle, Mrs. Carlyle, members of the family, celebrities, views and interiors.

Three of these albums have the names of the subjects indicated in Carlyle's writing with occasional notes by him. The photographs of Carlyle and Mrs. Carlyle, with her dog Nero reproduced in this catalogue are from prints in this collection, and there are many other photographs of Mrs. Carlyle with notes as to the degree of likeness by Carlyle. There are many photographs of Ruskin in various poses, Browning, with Auto. Note, "Paris, Oct. 1862," a signed photograph of Dickens and three of Mazzini, one with signed inscription to Mrs. Carlyle.

There are also several views and interiors of No. 5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea, one of which is given in this catalogue. In it may be seen the chair (lot 300 in this sale), in which Mrs. Carlyle is sitting for her photograph by Praetorius. Mrs. Carlyle's piano (lot 2g7), and other articles now offered.

These seven photograph albums, containing 502 images, are now held by Butler Library, which houses the rare book and special collections of Columbia University. The following is a simple inventory meant to provide the gist of particulars that are most closely related to TC and JWC while including some details of the photographs of later generations of Carlyles, whose images, mostly in volumes six and seven, were added by Mary Aitken Carlyle and by Alexander Carlyle, her husband.

The editors wish to thank Michael Ryan, director, and Tara C. Craig, reference services supervisor, of Butler Library, Columbia University, for supplying the illustrations that appear with this inventory. Additional images from the Carlyles' albums - four from "Tales of the Sun" (album 1) plus a carte de visite of Stauros Dilberoglue, "Greek of Chios" (image 33, album 2) - appear in Beryl Gray's article "Nero c'est moi" (CSA 22 [2006]: 181-213).

Album One

"Tales of the Sun" / photographs by Robert Scott Tait (RST) assembled and bound into a presentation album by Géraldine Jewsbury (GEJ) / this volume with its laid in addenda includes 39 images / the title page is dated 1855, but numerous images are from two years later

(1) Nero, inside cover page, inscribed: "Dedicated to Mrs. Carlyle / August, 1855"

(2) front elevation, 5 Cheyne Row, dated i6July 1857 by RST

(3) front door and adjacent window, dated 25 July 1 857 by RST

(4) TC in right profile, dated 28 July 1854 by RST

(5) TC facing forward, scowling, dated 3 1 July 1 854 by RST

(6) TC in left profile, dated 3 1 July 1 854 by RST

(7) TC in left profile, dated 28 July 1854 by RST

(8) TC in left profile, reading a book, dated 25 May 1855 by RST

(9) TC in right profile, working at his table in front of the water barrel, dated 15 May 1857 by RST

(10) JWC in three-quarter left profile, dated 29 June 1855 by RST

(11) JWC facing forward, dated 28JuIy 1854 by RST

(12) JWC seated, with Nero on her lap, dated 31 July 1854 by RST

(13) JWC in three-quarter left profile, head in right hand, seated at table with book and white marble bust, dated April 1855 by RST

(14) JWC in three-quarter left profile, head in right hand, seated at table in a different pose, dated April 1855 by RST

(15) JWC standing by velvet-upholstered settee, dated April 1855 by RST

(16) JWC standing behind ornately carved straight-back chair, dated 1855 by RST

(17) GEJ seated in left profile, JWC standing behind her, hands on back of chair, dated April 1855 by RST

(18) four miniatures, clockwise: Dr. …

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