Mr Twist, I presume?

Presented as a proud Sepia Saturday post, I give you Mr Twist, or Trist, or something like that. This CdV was made in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 1860s. The card corners are square and the thin borders date this to roughly 1862-1863 but possibly as late as 1868. I am not up on my Scottish names, so the words written under the gentleman’s name look like Inverdown Lodge to me, but perhaps some of our international visitors could correct me if needed.

This photo shows Mr Twist as I will call him, in a fairly typical 1860s photographic studio setting. Early cameras yielded a large, clear image which resulted in these nice full body shots, although the very earliest cameras produced a small image that most times photographed the bust portrait that was so popular. The studio props are standard photography issue – chair, patterned rug and plain backdrop. After 1870, backdrops became more elaborate to the point of absurd in the 1880s; bearskin or other animal skin rugs flourished, and props such as artificial fencing (seen in a previous photo), planters, concrete walls, and other objects were used to simulate either the fancy drawing room or the outdoorsy setting. By the 1890s, the de minimus look had become popular and we go back to a variety of simple chairs, photos focused only on the subject in bust format, and the like.

Perhaps the inspiration for the photograph was a graduation from college, an appointment to an important position, or just a young man out to meet the ladies of Edinburgh. We shall never know, but we can enjoy this image today, 150 years on from it’s origination.

UPDATES: Iggy corrected my spelling/reading of the photographer’s name as Horsburgh, and noted he was at the address on the card beginning in 1868. Given the parameters of the card itself dating the photo at the latest to 1868, we’ll go with that year. Secondly, Brett Payne suggested the location could have been Inverardran Lodge. Iggy provided a link in his comment if you’d like to see the lovely gigantic mansion estate guest house.


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