9th Nov, 2022 10:00

Royalty, Fine Art & Antiques

Lot 1072


Of Charles Darwin Interest: Exceptional Victorian album of carte de visite cards of Charles Darwin

Of Charles Darwin Interest: Exceptional Victorian album of carte de visite photographic portrait cards of Charles Darwin, from the collection of Henrietta Emma Litchfield (1843-1927), daughter of Charles Darwin. The album by London Stereoscopic Photographic Company with tooled green leather binding and brass clasp, inscribed to frontpiece – 'R. B. Litchfield, (Henrietta's husband Richard Buckley Litchfield (1832-1903) 4 Bryanston Street, Portman Square, W. / please do not take these out of this book', housing nineteen carte de visite portraits, each inscribed with Henrietta Litchfield's name to rear, to include: Early card by Maull & Polyblank, circa 1855; Oval portrait card, signed in ink – ‘Ch. Darwin’; Portrait posed to sinister, by Elliott & Fry, circa 1874; Half-length portrait by O. G. Rejlander, circa 1871; Late card by Dr. Wallich, signed in pen – ‘Ch. Darwin’; Portrait posed to sinister, by Elliott & Fry, circa 1874, signed – ‘Ch. Darwin’; Portrait posed slightly to sinister, by Elliott & Fry, circa 1874, signed in pen – ‘Ch. Darwin’; Portrait posed slightly to sinister, by Elliott & Fry, circa 1874, signed in pen – ‘Ch. Darwin’; Portrait posed to dexter, by Julia Margaret Cameron, circa 1868, signed in pen - 'Ch. Darwin’; Unidentified carte de visite portrait in profile to dexter; Two similar cards, by Oscar Rejlander, signed by photographer verso, circa 1871; Carte de visite portrait, circa 1868, inscribed in ink ‘From life, registered copyright Julia Margaret Cameron’, with gilt border; Unidentified card with framed oval portrait, possibly by late 1860s; Unidentified card with framed oval portrait, named verso ‘Late Wiseman’; Portrait posed to dexter, by Julia Margaret Cameron, circa 1868 – 1869, with printed details; Portrait by Dr. Wallich, signed in pen – ‘Ch. Darwin’; Portrait in profile to dexter, by Ernest Edwards, circa 1866; Portrait posed half-length, seated on desk chair, by Oscar Rejlander, photographic details in pen verso.

Provenance: From the Estate of George Erasmus Darwin, (1927-2017) great grandson of Charles and Emma Darwin, the previous history is unknown, but likely by family descent. A related album was auctioned at Christie’s, London, 8th October 2014, lot 63, sold for £30,000. That also contained 19 Carte de visite cards, but included various family subjects including Charles and Emma Darwin, their daughter Henrietta Emma Litchfield (1843-1927), her husband Richard Buckley Litchfield (1832-1903), George Howard Darwin (1845-1912) and various other unidentified subjects. Like the present lot, the album included a pen inscription by Richard Buckley Litchfield. The inscription was dated 17 November 1879 and was dedicated to Anne Griffiths, who at the time of the Christie's sale hadn't been identified.

NB: Charles Darwin's profound interest in photography is well documented, he not only used photographs in his research, but also freely exchanged carte de visite portraits to friends and colleagues through letters. His friend the botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker termed
Darwin’s exchange of photographic images as his 'carte correspondence'. This was an important tool for Darwin to cement his international scientific network, photographic portraiture was also fundamental to establishing Charles Darwin as a celebrity. He is believed to have sat for photographs on 18 separate occasions resulting in 32 different poses. Henrietta was the Darwins' third daughter, but their second daughter Mary died in infancy and after the death of Henrietta's sister Annie at age ten, seven year Henrietta became the eldest daughter. Her bond to her father was very strong and she assisted him in his work including editing 'The Descent of Man', his biography of Erasmus Darwin and his Autobiography, removing several contentious passages. It seems likely that this wonderful album was Henrietta's keepsake with which to remember her dear father by

Sold for £126,000

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Auction: Royalty, Fine Art & Antiques, 9th Nov, 2022

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