Hugh Welch Diamond & Surrey County Lunatic Asylum, 1848–58

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Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Hugh Welch Diamond (1809–1886) was an early British psychiatrist and photographer who made a major contribution to the craft of psychiatric photography.
Diamond studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons and St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, and first practiced in Soho, where he became interested in mental illness. From 1848 to 1858, after a period at London’s Bethlem Hospital, became superintendent of the female department of the Surrey County Lunatic Asylum. There, he began a systematic photo-documentation of the inmates to supersede the engraved portraits commissioned by his predecessor Sir Alexander Morison. He worked in the belief that mental states are manifested in the physiognomy and that photographs are objective representations of reality.

Diamond described himself as a photographer, as one who
catches in a moment the permanent cloud, or the passing storm or sunshine of the soul, and thus enables the metaphysician to witness and trace out the connexion between the visible and the invisible.

Diamond was fascinated by the possible use of photography in the treatment of mental disorders; some of his many calotypes depicting the expressions of people suffering from mental disorders are particularly moving. These were used not only for record purposes, but also, he claimed in the treatment of patients – although there was little evidence of success.
Diamond was one of the founders of the Photographic Society, and became the editor of the Photographic Journal. Perhaps it is for his attempts to popularize photography and to lessen its mystique that Diamond is best remembered. He wrote many articles and was a popular lecturer, and he also sought to encourage younger photographers.

Seated Woman with a Bird, ca. 1855 (Hugh Welch Diamond / The J. Paul Getty Museum)

Seated Woman with a Bird, ca. 1855 (Hugh Welch Diamond / The J. Paul Getty Museum)

Patient in Surrey County Lunatic Asylum, 1850–58 (Hugh Welch Diamond / The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Patient in Surrey County Lunatic Asylum, 1850–58 (Hugh Welch Diamond / The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Seated Woman with a Bird, ca. 1855. This patient’s diagnosis is unknown, but the fact that the photograph was made in an insane asylum leaves open the interpretation of the scene.
The way the woman cradles the dead bird with its limp, broken neck while wearing a surprised, slightly bemused expression presents an uneasy question of whether she mourns the bird’s death or was the cause of it.
Patient in Surrey County Lunatic Asylum, 1850–58. This photograph may have been made to identify the patient or, by recording a phase of the disease, to serve the doctor’s diagnosis. Because the image is not annotated the viewer may, like the metaphysician, muse on whether the woman’s engaging but ambiguous smile and almost cocky pose denote a state of madness, a return to health, or a challenge to society’s parameters of sanity.
The Springfield University Hospital opened in 1841, as the Surrey County Pauper Lunatic Asylum. The hospital admitted 299 patients that had all be examined by Sir Alexander Morison, the visiting physician to Springfield, and taken out of various private madhouses around Surrey.
The estate, with 97 acres of land, was considered an ideal location for the Asylum because of its nearness to population centres, its southerly aspect and clean air, and a suitable water supply.  Springfield Park contained an 18th century mansion house, stables and a coach house, as well as farm buildings.
During WW1 the Asylum became the Springfield War Hospital. It was one of the principal reception centers for the mentally disabled from the front in France.
South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust was formed in 1994 and has provided mental health services across south west London, serving 1.1 million people in the boroughs of Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth. The site is still currently the headquarters of NHS Trust and provides a range of local mental health care services as well as a number of leading specialist services.
Sources / More to Read:
Wikipedia: Hugh Welch Diamond
Wikipedia: Springfield University Hospital
The Time Chamber: Surrey County Asylum, Springfield Hospital
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Surrey Wildlife Trust

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George Bernard Shaw, 1889

160 years since the birth of George Bernard Shaw

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

George Bernard Shaw in 1889

George Bernard Shaw in 1889 (Berg Collection/The New York Public Library)

George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic and polemicist whose influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays, with a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory. In 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Born in Dublin, Shaw moved to London in 1876, where he struggled to establish himself as a writer and novelist, and embarked on a rigorous process of self-education. By the mid-1880s he had become a respected theatre and music critic.

“George Bernard Shaw… has a fund of dry Irish humour that is simply irresistible. He is a clever writer and speaker – is the grossest flatterer I ever met, is horribly untrustworthy as he repeats everything he hears, and does not always stick to the truth, and is very plain like a long corpse with dead white face – sandy sleek hair, and a loathsome small straggly beard, and yet is one of the most fascinating men I ever met.”
Edith Nesbit, letter to Ada Breakell – 19th August, 1884

Following a political awakening, he joined the gradualist Fabian Society (a British socialist organisation whose purpose is to advance the principles of Democratic Socialism via gradualist and reformist effort in democracies, rather than by revolutionary overthrow) and became its most prominent pamphleteer.
Shaw had been writing plays for years before his first public success, Arms and the Man in 1894. Influenced by Henrik Ibsen, he sought to introduce a new realism into English-language drama, using his plays as vehicles to disseminate his political, social and religious ideas. By the early twentieth century his reputation as a dramatist was secured with a series of critical and popular successes.
Shaw’s expressed views were often contentious; he promoted eugenics and alphabet reform, and opposed vaccination and organised religion. He courted unpopularity by denouncing both sides in the First World War as equally culpable, and although not a republican, castigated British policy on Ireland in the postwar period. These stances had no lasting effect on his standing or productivity as a dramatist; the inter-war years saw a series of often ambitious plays, which achieved varying degrees of popular success.
In 1938 he provided the screenplay for a filmed version of Pygmalion for which he received an Oscar Academy Award.
In the final decade of his life he made fewer public statements, but continued to write prolifically until shortly before his death, aged ninety-four, having refused all state honours including the Order of Merit in 1946.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: George Bernard Shaw
Wikipedia: Fabian Society
Gutenberg: E-Books by Bernard Shaw
Spartacus Educational: George Bernard Shaw
New York Public Library
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Eleanor Xiniwe of the African Choir, 1891

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Mrs Eleanor Xiniwe (nee Ndwanya) of the African Choir, 1891. Photographed by London Stereoscopic Company studios. Courtesy of Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Mrs Eleanor Xiniwe (nee Ndwanya) of the African Choir, 1891 (Photographed by London Stereoscopic Company studios. Courtesy of Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The African Choir were a group of young South African singers that toured Britain between 1891 and 1893. Inspired by Orpheus M. McAdoo’s Virginia Jubilee Singers, they were a Christian choir on a mission to raise funds for a technical school in Kimberley in the Cape Colony (South Africa). The Choir’s members, drawn from seven different South African tribes, included Paul Xiniwe and his wife Eleanor, Sannie Koopman, Charlotte Makhomo Manye, Johanna Jonkers, Josiah Semouse and a Miss Gwashu. Their best known performance was before Queen Victoria at Osborne House, the royal residence on the Isle of Wight.

(Mrs. Eleanor Xiniwe) is a young lady-like, native woman, the regularity of whose features despite her sable complexion, vies with most European faces, and who has dignified and rather stately manners. – London Illustrated News, August 29, 1891

The Illustrated London News, August 29, 1891

The Illustrated London News, August 29, 1891

At some point during their stay, they visited the studio of the London Stereoscopic Company to have group and individual portraits made on plate-glass negatives. They are the first black people ever photographed in Britain. That long-lost series of photographs, unseen for 120 years, was the dramatic centrepiece of an illuminating new exhibition called Black Chronicles II. “The portraits were last shown in the London Illustrated News in 1891,” says Renee Mussai, who has co-curated the show at London’s Rivington Place alongside Mark Sealy MBE, director of Autograph ABP, a foundation that focuses on black cultural identity often through the use of overlooked archives. “The Hulton Archive, where they came from, did not even know they existed until we uncovered them while excavating their archive as part of our research project.”
The London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company specialised in carte de visites – small photographs printed on cards that were often traded by collectors or used by performers for publicity purposes – and, as their name suggests, they were all in stereo which, when seen through a special viewer, gave the illusion of a three-dimensional photograph.
Sources:
Guardian
Autograph ABP: Black Chronicles II
Lasca Sartoris.tumblr.com

 

Frederick Douglass, ca. 1850

Fred-04

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Frederick Douglass,

Frederick Douglass, “Majestic in his Wrath”, 1847-52
(photo: Samuel J. Miller / The Art Institute of Chicago)

“MAJESTIC IN HIS WRATH”
Frederick Douglass
(born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, c. 1818 – 1895) was an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman.
He was born into slavery in Talbot County, Maryland. He was the son of a slave woman and, probably, her white master. Around the age of eight he was sent to live with one of his owner’s relatives in Baltimore, Maryland. It was while living in Baltimore that he was mistakenly taught the first several letters of the alphabet. Those few letters opened a new world to him and began his lifelong love of language. At fifteen, the now literate Douglass was returned to the Eastern shore to work as a field hand. Here the increasingly independent teenager educated other slaves, resisted efforts to beat him, and planned a failed escape attempt. Three years later, at age 20, Douglass disguised himself as a sailor, and carrying a friend’s passport, boarded a northbound train from Baltimore. He arrived in New York City and declared himself a free man, adopting the name of the hero of Sir Walter Scott’s “The Lady of the Lake”.
For 16 years he edited an influential black newspaper and achieved international fame as an inspiring and persuasive speaker and writer. He stood as a living counter-example to slaveholders’ arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens.

“Knowledge is the pathway from slavery to freedom.”

His three autobiographies are considered important works of the slave narrative tradition as well as classics of American autobiography. He described his experiences as a slave in his 1845 autobiography: “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave”, which became a bestseller and influential in supporting abolition, as did the second: “My Bondage and My Freedom” (1855). After the Civil War, Douglass remained an active campaigner against slavery and wrote his last autobiography: “Life and Times of Frederick Douglass”.
A firm believer in the equality of all people, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant, Douglass famously said, “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.” In thousands of speeches and editorials, he levied a powerful indictment against slavery and racism, provided an indomitable voice of hope for his people, embraced antislavery politics and preached his own brand of American ideals. Douglass also actively supported women’s suffrage, and held several public offices.

In 1839 Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre announced the perfection of the daguerreotype, a photographic process that employed a silver-coated copperplate sensitive to light. This new artistic process was celebrated for its remarkably sharp detail and praised as a “democratic art” that brought portraiture into reach for the masses. Within a few years, thousands of daguerrean portrait studios had sprung up all over the United States, among them the one that Samuel J. Miller owned in Akron, Ohio. Although most of the likenesses made in commercial studios were formulaic and not very revealing of the subject’s character, this portrait of Frederick Douglass is a striking exception. Northeastern Ohio was a center of Abolitionism prior to the Civil War, and Douglass knew that this picture, one of an astonishing number that he commissioned or posed for, would be seen by ardent supporters of his campaign to end slavery. Douglass was an intelligent manager of his public image and likely guided Miller in projecting his intensity and sheer force of character. As a result, this portrait demonstrates that Douglass truly appeared “majestic in his wrath,” as the nineteenth-century feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton observed.

Sources:
The Art Institute of Chicago
Wikipedia: Frederick Douglass
Wikipedia: Daguerreotype
History: Frederick Douglass
History Is A Weapon: “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro”. A speech given at Rochester, New York, by Frederick Douglass on July 5, 1852

Ο Φρέντερικ Ντάγκλας γεννήθηκε σκλάβος σε μια φυτεία του Mαίρυλαντ στις ΗΠΑ, το 1818. Σε ηλικία 8 χρονών, βρέθηκε σε μια άλλη φυτεία στη Βαλτιμόρη. Παρόλο που ο νόμος απαγόρευε στους σκλάβους να μάθουν να διαβάζουν, η γυναίκα του αφεντικού, παράτυπα, του έμαθε ανάγνωση. Η κοινή πεποίθηση στις Νότιες Πολιτείες ήταν ότι, αν οι σκλάβοι αντιλαμβάνονταν τη θέση τους, τότε θα ζητούσαν την ελευθερία τους.
Ο Ντάγκλας, άρχισε κρυφά να διαβάζει ό,τι έπεφτε στα χέρια του και σύντομα  προσπάθησε να μάθει ανάγνωση και στους υπόλοιπους δούλους. Στα 20 του χρόνια δραπέτευσε στη Νέα Υόρκη και από τότε αφοσιώθηκε στην εξάλειψη της δουλείας, με τη χαρακτηριστική ρήση: “Η γνώση είναι ο δρόμος από τη σκλαβιά στην ελευθερία”. Στα επόμενα χρόνια αναδείχθηκε σε έναν από τους μεγαλύτερους ρήτορες και υπερασπιστές των ανθρώπινων δικαιωμάτων, εκδίδοντας εφημερίδες, δίνοντας διαλέξεις και γράφοντας τρεις αυτοβιογραφίες που θεωρούνται κλασσικές στην Αμερικάνικη λογοτεχνία. Πέθανε το 1895, μετά από μια ομιλία του για την χειραφέτηση των γυναικών.

Στα μέσα του 19ου αι., τα φωτογραφικά πορτραίτα που γίνονταν με τη νέα εντυπωσιακή μέθοδο της δαγκεροτυπίας ήταν πολύ δημοφιλή. Ωστόσο, τα περισσότερα ήταν τυποποιημένα κι αδιάφορα, και δεν απεικόνιζαν το χαρακτήρα του εικονιζόμενου. Όμως, οι φωτογραφίες  που έβγαλε ο Ντάγκλας πριν τον Αμερικάνικο Εμφύλιο, στο Βορειοανατολικό Οχάϊο, το προπύργιο των πολέμιων της δουλείας, ήταν εξαίρεση. Ο Ντάγκλας ήξερε να χειρίζεται άριστα τη δημόσια εικόνα του και ήθελε τα πορτραίτα του να δημιουργούν μια συγκεκριμένη εντύπωση στους οπαδούς του. Σ’ αυτό το πορτραίτο, καθοδήγησε τον φωτογράφο του, Σάμουελ Μίλλερ, έτσι ώστε να απεικονίσει το δυναμισμό του χαρακτήρα του.  Η Ελίζαμπεθ Στάντον, γνωστή φεμινίστρια της εποχής, εύστοχα έδωσε στη φωτογραφία τον τίτλο : “Μεγαλοπρεπής στο θυμό του”.