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Field, William, 1854–1932
William Field scrapbook.
London, 1895.
Physical Description:
1 v. (68 p.) ; 47 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
Folio A 2011 8
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Information
Archives & Manuscripts
William Field (1854-1932) established himself as a professional photographer in Putney, London, in 1878. His shop window described him as a "photographer and artist," and he demonstrated a talent for caricatures. Brief biographical information about Field is available in: William Field's photographs of Putney (Wandsworth : Wandsworth Historical Society, 1997).
Bound in contemporary maroon half-leather, with brass clasp.
Manuscript scrapbook compiled in 1895 by William Field (photographer at Putney, London) comprising a history of the Field family. The album includes numerous photographs, drawings (many caricatures), portraits, letters, invitations, valentines, marriage certificates, tax bills, and other genealogical material. The photographs and drawings appear to be mostly the work of William Field.
The material is artfully arranged throughout. Field decorated each page with pen and ink embellishments, and recorded captions for almost every one of the hundreds of pieces affixed on the album's pages. Field notes that he is busy at work on the album in April, 1895, in anticipation of entering it in a contest for family albums the following month: "I am at this present moment busy this 26 April 1895 compiling this book to gain fame and money as silver medalist & prize winner in the forthcoming May competition for a unique Family Album" (p. 15). It is not clear what competition this was or whether Field ultimately entered his album in it. No further mention is made of the competition or of any prizes awarded to Field, and he continues filling its pages after May 1895.
Field used the album to preserve memory of family, friends, and of his local surroundings. He records genealogical information starting (in tongue-in-cheek manner) with a Darwinian image of apes (p. 3) and moving on to a general history of the Field name in England. Beginning with his grandparents, Field traces specific ancestors from the early nineteenth century onward. He includes his in-laws, the Crispin family, and other branches of relatives as well. Field includes marriage and baptism certificates, professional papers, correspondence, black-bordered Victorian funeral/mourning cards, and even an undertaker's bill and certificate of burial for his mother and father, respectively. He carefully affixes such items to the page with adhesive tape and ribbons to protect them from being damaged and to allow them to be read by others. When he cannot include original items, Field places platinotype reproductions (i.e. platinum prints) of family papers, photographs, and other documents.
Field's album traces a bittersweet personal history. He devotes multiple pages to his brother Albert, who died when just 19. Letters and other artwork by Albert fill the pages devoted to him and suggest the grief that his death caused William. Field married his wife, Marianne Crispin, in 1874. He devotes a page to himself and more than one to Marianne, including photographs from her childhood, from their early days together, and on to the present day. He also devotes a page to each of his four living children, Albert, Wynne, Oswald, and Lennox. Two Field children who have passed away are given a shared memorial page, with one child's grave shown in a couple of photographs, and a stillborn baby shown in a single photograph (likely taken by Field himself). Field's family images seem to indicate a happy and full household, despite their past losses. Field and his wife appear in many images of costume dress balls, wearing fanciful outfits and smiling with friends. One particular friend appears frequently in the album--a woman named Annie Robinson, listed as a "visitor" and a "photographer" in the 1901 census record for the Field household. She is usually depicted in fancy dress or costume.
Field includes multiple images of the Putney area of London, where he worked and lived. Local street scenes, views of his photography studio, and images of the new Putney Bridge (built in 1886) appear on its pages, along with photographs of champion rowers in their boats. He also includes photographs of his many friends, providing captions that convey snippets of remembered history, anecdotes sometimes humorous and sometimes rather grim in nature, usually describing untimely deaths. Field's album concludes on the sixty-eighth page, with a note proclaiming, "Here endeth Book One, 27 August 1895." The album was not completed beyond this point, although a note dated 1922 updates a caption on one page.
Subject Terms:
Crispin family.
Field family.
Field, Arthur W., 1875-1895.
Field, Marianne Elizabeth, 1854-1937.
Field, William, 1824-1864.
Field, William, 1854-1932.
Portrait photography.
Putney (London, England) -- Pictorial works.
Ink drawings.
Photograph albums.
Portrait photographs.
Albumen prints.
Platinum prints.
Field, Arthur W., 1875-1895.
IIIF Manifest:

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