Friends

30 November 2019: Friends Evening

VICTORIAN WORKING-CLASS WOMEN IN THE STEREOSCOPE BY Denis Pellerin


Over the past couple of years, while producing 3D photos featured in the museum, for magazines and for various exhibitions, we have got to know the London Stereoscopic Company and one of it’s directors, photo historian Denis Pellerin, in particular. 

Denis has been a source of advice and encouragement. Recently Denis completed a lecture tour of UK, Europe and USA lecturing on the theme of this event, which although it covers a period prior to ‘the Pendon period’ illustrates some of the attitudes and behaviours that were carried forward into the 1920s. Denis has kindly agreed to share his talk and 3D images with us at this Friends Evening.

The stereoscope was a ‘middle-class’ device found in the parlours of the Victorian bourgeoisie, both in Britain and in France. Unsurprisingly, most of the images made for this “magical instrument” were for a middle-class audience and catered to their tastes and aspirations. However, there exists a large number of stereoscopic pictures representing working-class women, mostly seamstresses, laundry girls, fish women, farm lasses and female servants. The reasons for choosing these subjects are as varied as the occupations illustrated. 

Using 3D images from Dr. Brian May’s extensive collection, Denis will show how the Victorians evidently admired the strong, healthy-looking and independent fishwives; took a real interest in the working conditions of seamstresses; found laundresses titillating; had idyllic notions about life in the countryside; and were fascinated by their servants whom they often feared as much as they distrusted … or sometimes desired.