19th Century

Pretty picnic photographs

So, I was planning to show you picnic photographs from the 1860s and 70s.  But it turns out there aren’t many picnic photographs from these decades.  There are lots from the very advent of photography, and then lots again starting in the 1890s, but 1860-1890 is a no-picnic-photograph zone.

So you are going to have to settle for two images of lovely ladies in picnic suitable ensembles.

Photograph, Carte-de-visite, Elliott & Fry (photographer), 1869

A nice simple dress and hat, perfect for a pastoral picnic.  I like that the dress is worn without hoops.   Her not-quite-a-bonnet not-quite-a-bergere hat is adorable.  And the slightly worn shoe peeping out at the hem is a great touch.

Pierre-Louis Pierson, La Comtesse with Horn, Umbrella and Bottles, 1861-67

The Comtesse de Castiglione did a series of photographs of herself in the different stages of the day.  For midday she is dressed for a picnic, with parasol, wrap, floral bonnet, plates and bottles of refreshments.  She looks much more staged and less natural than the lady above.  The bottles are cool though.  And the scalloped hem is a nice touch.

ETA: need more picnic ideas for ca. 1871?  Check out V&E’s fabulous page of 1868 fashion patterns, including some very fetching garden hats, and clothes for children.


  1. Kathy P says

    Oh, for a picnic! The outfits are beautiful and make me long even more for summer. We’re currently in the grip of -8C temps with just enough snow on the ground to make things look even colder.

  2. I too am loving this picnic theme.

    I suspect the reason you’ve found relatively few photographs of actual picnics in the 1860s and 70s is because dry-plate film wasn’t available until the late 1870s, making it very difficult to take photos outside the studio (you’d have had to construct a mobile darkroom on the picnic grounds!!).

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