Sunday, 22 May 2011

Extracts from the obituary of Warwick Brookes 1843-1929

Warwick Brookes, photographer of 350 Oxford Road, Manchester died in 1929 aged 85 years. The following are extracts from obituaries that appeared in local newspapers of the time.

Mr. Warwick Brookes died on Saturday at the age of 85, the last of "the old wet-plate" photographers, in Manchester, and probably the whole of the country. Contemporary with the great Lafosse and Edward Ireland, he was one of the trio of pioneering photographers in the days when photography demanded a real knowledge of chemistry, and a degree of genius that is not essential today. About 1864 he started his business in the Cathedral Yard, not far away from Lafosse's studio in Victoria Street. The fact that he was the nephew of an artist whose work had been such as to merit a Government pension helped him considerably in his early days, raising expectations that the photographer would have inherited something of the artist's eye. Clients were not disappointed. As the years went by he showed it more and more, and in his heyday it is said that there was not a man in the country with a better theatrical connection. Among other notabilities, Sir Henry Irving sat for him at least three times, and the reputation of Mr. Warwick Brookes could be counted as nation wide. As he grew old he lost his hearing, but he retained the old genial manner and his deep interest in art, though advancing years caused him to hand over his business to an assistant.

*It is interesting to note that his cousin, the artist's son, also Warwick 1854-1922, set up a photography business much later in Manchester, in Victoria Street, where, earlier, Lafosse had his studio. Could it be the same building? It obviously dismayed the older established Brookes that his cousin was operating under the same name. He often placed disclaimers on his work, making it known that there was no trade connection.

*This is an example of the work of Augustus Frederick Lafosse <Click>, which is held by the National Portrait Gallery collections.
(Lafosse, a Belgian, was awarded the title "Le Chevalier" by his country for his notable work in photography). He is also referred to as "Le Chevalier Lafosse".
*This link provides further information on Edward Ireland <Click>.

The three photographers appeared together in a photograph which accompanied an article in the Manchester Guardian, relating their careers as pioneering photographers. This appeared on page 9 of the October 4th 1929 issue of newspaper, which is available to view on line by members of Manchester Libraries.

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