Since the invention of photography, the rare photographs of some of the most important events or of famous people have always fetched enormous prices at the auctions. We have earlier seen that the Rolls Royce and Wright Brothers historic photographs went under the hammer in an event conducted by Paul Fraser Collectibles. And, this time we have a photographic portrait of Charles Dickens wife, Catherine, which was discovered in an antique shop, will be auctioned at Bonhams, Knightsbridge, as part of the Photographs sale on May 17.
Described to be Catherine’s only daguerreotype portrait ever known to exist, this profile portrait came into light in year 1996, when it was discovered in an antique camera shop in Canterbury. Estimated at $12,845 - $19,280, this portrait was initially believed to be an image of Charles Dickens’s sister, but leading historic scholars soon identified it as Dickens’s wife, Catherine (nee Hogarth)
This portrait’s earliest date can be given as 1852, referred from the patented date ‘Reg July 20 1852’, found on the catch of the historic morocco-bound case. Further, the surviving letters of Charles Dickens reveals that he personally sat for photographer John Mayall, in 1852. Further, a historic daguerreotype portrait of the novelist, dated 1853-55, was also sold at auction in London in 2011. All these facts make it possible to assume that the writer and his wife Catherine visited Mayall’s studio together during that period, and these two historic portraits were intended as a pair.
Two ivory passes for the 1870 Italian Opera, which were discovered inside the case of this rare daguerreotype, will also be offered alongside the auction. ‘Miss Dickens’ inscribed on one of the daguerreotype suggest that it might have once belonged to the couple’s eldest daughter Mary, known as Mamie.
Coincidentally, an 1867 portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron of Valentine Prinsep, with whom, it is believed that kate, Charles Dickens’s youngest daughter had a love affair, is also on sale at this same auction. In addition, this Photographs Sale also includes the portrait of Alfred Lord Tennyson by Cameron, an image popularly known as The Dirty Monk, 1865, signed by Tennyson himself is also on auction, and is expected to fetch $9630 to $12,845. Another portrayal of photographer Cameron’s grandson, Archibald Cameron, and her maid Mary Hillier is also on auction at the price of $9630 to $12,845.