Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Henry Cardinal Manning

This is a part of my small but growing collection of original photographs of Victorian worthies. Originally an Anglican playing a huge part in the high-church Oxford Movement, Manning followed Newman into the Roman church and rose quickly there to the position of Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.

I'm particularly enthused about this photo because it was taken by Mssrs Bassano, for which read Alexander Bassano who was pretty much the society photographer of his day, a little like Napoleon Sarony in the US. This is what The National Portrait Gallery has to say about him and his company:

Alexander Bassano opened his first studio in 1850 on Regent Street, London. In 1876 he moved to Old Bond Street, where the firm was located until 1921. The studio was large enough to accommodate an eighty-foot panoramic background scene mounted on rollers, which provided a variety of outdoor scenes or court backgrounds. Bassano retired from work at the studio in around 1903, when the premises were extensively refurbished and relaunched as Bassano Ltd, Royal Photographers. The firm was subsequently resold on many occasions but retained the Bassano name and the studio's collection of negatives.

The NPG has a large collection of Bassano photographs which are viewable online in small formats. The NPG has a record of one photograph of Manning by Bassano and it is detailed as 1883 but there is no online image so, inuriatingly I can't see if this is the same as theirs. 188s would make Mannig 75 in thie picture which, by the look of him, is clearly possible. Looking at some of the NPG's other photographic portraits of him I would say that 1883 was quite plausible.

The other nice thing about this particular photograph is that on the verso, along with the imprint of th Bassano studio there is also an inked stamp mark from a retailer in the US: Dr J J Roth of Fifth Avenue, New York, 'Art, Stationary, Books, Photographic Portraits and Views From All Parts of the World', giving an idea of the widespread popularity of Manning.
For more information on Manning we, as always, turn for a starting point to his Wikipedia Entry. Although in this instance there is a somwhat fuller and probably more accurate short biography in The Catholic Encyclopedia.

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