Historical information

Charlemont & Co., operated out of the Academy Studio, 114 Elizabeth Street from 1890 to 1898. The sitter’s identity has been established as a Mrs. Merritt. While we know that she is not the Mrs Merritt who was to be the wife of the future Mayor of Kew, there were two Mrs Merritts who were shopkeepers in High Street, Kew. Mrs Lucy Merritt operated a bootmaker’s shop, and subsequently a “boot warehouse” from 1888 until the 1920s. Miss Laura Merritt established a dressmaker’s shop in High Street in 1910. Her business also lasted until the 1920s, albeit changed to that of a bookseller and stationer.

Physical description

Silver albumen cabinet card by Charlemont & Co., who operated out of the Academy Studio, 114 Elizabeth Street from 1890 to 1898. In this portrait of Mrs Merritt, she is posed gazing directly at the lens, thus achieving a potentially more intimate relationship with the viewer. All that is revealed however in this supposedly more direct pose is her face. As with an earlier generation, her hair is centrally parted and flattened to accommodate her bonnet, which is surmounted by feathers. The detail in her coat-dress is sharply revealed by new photographic processes that allowed firms like Charlemont & Co., to capture greater light and shade, as well as the detail of fabrics. The entire garment is beaded with what is probably Parisian jet. The beading is arranged in a ‘paisley’ design. The paisley pattern was to become ubiquitous in the 19th century as a design on everything from carpets, to shawls, to clothing.

Inscriptions & markings

Mrs Merritt