Monday, September 20, 2010

Childhood And Child Labour In The British Industrial Revolution


9 comments:

Hels said...

The photos have a powerful impact on the modern viewer, and presumably on the Victorian viewer as well.

I have just read a little booklet called After Image on social documentary of photography (published by the Nat Gall Victoria). Basically the thrust of the booklet was that the mind can _intellectually know_ a problem existed. But top quality photos, like yours, force the heart to _feel the story emotionally_.

Hermes said...

These really touched me, especially the little sweep with his dirty face and bare feet - reminded me of the Water Babies.

Anonymous said...

Found your very interesting website looking for info on H.Gandy, whose hilarious painting 'The Viking's farewell' I just came across.

On the subject of child labour wasn't it the Hammonds, authors of 'The Bleak Age', who wrote:'the Battle of Trafalgar was won by the children of Birmingham'?

photojim111 said...

I am afraid that the picture of the "chimney sweep" (second from top) is a modern "fake." Compare the distribution of the "soot" on his face with the dirt on the faces of the boys in the authentic pictures (above and especially below). In a larger reproduction (or an original print) of the picture of the boys in the coalmine (below – a picture by Lewis Hine) it can be seen how the soot collected around their eyes and in the corners of their mouths and their nostrils. The "soot" on his face has been carefully applied to avoid his eyes and mouth. The spontaneity of the picture and the expression on his face are totally different from the poses and expressions in the authentic pictures. This picture was probably made with a hand-held camera, while the others would have been made through a slow and deliberate procedure with heavy cameras on tripods. The authentic picture at the bottom (also by Lewis Hine) might have been made with a hand-held camera, but compare the reaction to the camera of the girl in the cotton mill to that of the "chimney sweep." Fifty to a hundred years separate them. During that period society had learned to interact quite differently with photographers. It is unlikely that an early photographer would have made a composition as "tight" as the "fake," in which the top edge of the picture forms a tangent with his hat while the bottom edge is tangential with his toes (which are surprisingly clean, as are his checked trousers). Of course the tangents could have been created by "cropping" but no photographer of the period would have cropped in such a manner. The stark contrast in the modern print is at odds with the tonality of the older prints. The photo at the top was undoubtedly reproduced from an original print that had faded badly, while the lower print shows the subtlety and fullness of tonality typical of the printing paper used at that time (although here it is presented with no dark tones, probably as a result of the copyist’s desire to avoid the loss of subtle dark detail – an original print would have much darker shadows). The tonal manipulation ("dodging" and "burning") in the photo of the "chimney sweep" is characteristic of modern (post WWII) prints by photographers who are inept at printmaking, as is evident in the "halo" around his body (most evident near his right elbow and his left hip) resulting from the photographer’s clumsy efforts to compensate for having printed (or made a negative) with excessive contrast.

legrandmaitre said...

Photojim is quite correct. The photograph of the little chimney sweep boy is indeed a modern photograph - created for or by the Daily Mail.

Hermes said...

Thanks, I have no doubt you are right - odd to fake such a picture really.

Hels said...

Hermes

what is this guff - spam mail? And why is it coming to my mailbox?

Hermes said...

What a weird spam Helen, I'm sure that didn't go through my inbox or I would have deleted it. Apologies.

Anonymous said...

photojim is most certainly correct. it is quite odd that someone would create an untrue image. absolutely inhumane.