Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Location Of Warwick Brookes' (1843-1929) First Studio

Here we have a photograph of Cathedral Steps, Victoria Terrace, Manchester, circa 1870's. To the right of the steps, a sign "Warwick Brookes" can be seen attached to the front wall of the building, above the first floor window. There appears to be furniture stacked around of the ground floor entrance.

We know that Cathedral Steps was the address of Warwick Brookes', (my 1st cousin 3X removed), first studio before he relocated to 350 Oxford Road for the remainder of his career. We also know that he married Mary Simpole, (Granny Brookes), and she was the daughter of Charles Simpole, a furniture dealer. A search of the business directories and censuses around that time shows that Charles Simpole occupied premises also at Cathedral Steps, (Cathedral Yard), and operated his furniture business from there.

Making an assumption from the detail within this photograph, it now appears to us, from this chance purchase from eBay today, this may well be how the two of them met, and the rest is history. They went on to have three children, also mentioned on this website - Warwick Brookes MP 1875-1935, Blanche Brookes 1872-1959, and Gordon Byron Brookes 1880-1916.

The photographer's cousin, also Warwick Brookes 1854-1922, (my great grandfather's brother), also ran his own photographic studio from Victoria Street, as did Le Chevalier Lafosse at various points around that time. The younger Brookes moved on to a studio in Marple Bridge, and Lafosse moved both his studio and home to Knolls House, Higher Broughton, Salford.

Although mounted on original card, and not marked on the front, I would like to think the image of his studio might have been taken by Brookes himself. Probably true - why would a photographer take an image of another's studio premises?

Manchester Cathedral and Victoria Terrace c1870's
Blanche's wedding, 8th August 1894. to Eugen Sandow, at Manchester Cathedral. Top left, Warwick MP, (brother), centre William Sinclair, (Archdeacon of London), 2nd right Florenz Ziegfeld Jnr. Right Eugen Sandow. Boy sitting below Blanche, centre, Gordon Byron, (brother). I am fairly certain that Blanche's father Warwick Brookes is far left, and her mother Mary is far right.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Letters Of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

I have already referred to letters from Frederic Shields to Dante Gabriel Rossetti in other posts here. Shields wrote to Rossetti informing him of my great (X2) grandfather Warwick Brooks' poor health, which had forced him to give up his everyday work, and to rely on his artistic talents to support his young family. I now have access to two letters sent by Rossetti directly to Brookes as a result. Brookes was selling photographic representations of his art at £4 a set, and Rossetti wanted to acquire them. According to Letherbrow's biography, many eminent artists of the time acquired these sets of photographs, as well as museums, such as the South Kensington, now known as the V&A.

16 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, London.
21st Feb 1868.

Dear Sir,

I lately saw a set of photographs from some admirable drawings from nature by you, and I understand from our friend Mr. Shields that a set can be obtained from you for £4. Will you therefor allow me to enclose that sum by P.O. order and to request that they be kindly sent to me at your convenience. I cannot doubt that, when seen they will quickly be appreciated in London by all whose judgement is of any value.

I cannot refrain, though a stranger, from saying how deeply I regret to hear of your present state of health, and how sincerely hope it may still change for the better; and with all best wishes, remain

yours sincerely,

D.G. Rossetti.

Another letter was sent to Brookes 7 days later:

16 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, London.

My Dear Sir,

Many thanks for the beautiful portfolio of photographs which I value highly & which are already meeting with equal appreciation from others. The babies in particular, seem to me triumphs, every one of them; not that they are better than many of the other figures, but because every artist knows to his cost how difficult it is to attain such success in representing babyhood.

I do not know if you allow anyone to purchase fewer photos: than a complete set; but if you do, my brother is anxious to have about half the number, & in such case would send you word of his favorites among the series. With kind remembrance to Shields if you should see him.

I am your very truly,