Backmark: “J. Ward, Photographer. 78 Easton Road, London”
Date: c. 1860-66
Subject: Older woman and younger woman
This woman wears a hip-length, unfitted paletot over her dress. The jacket is either a shiny, worsted wool, or a wool/silk mix. The jacket is trimmed with two rows of dark ribbon- probably black velvet- and a row of decorative buttons down the front. Curiously, two of the buttons read as white and the rest as black. It is unclear if the white collar is attached to a dress-bodice underneath, or if it is attached to the jacket which is functioning as a bodice. A brooch fastens at center front and neck.
The dress, of which only the skirt is visible, is striped.
Her hair is parted in the center, and she wears an elaborate headdress or cap. These caps were in style in the 1850s, and so it is not surprising that an older woman would wear something a litlle out of style. Unlike headdresses of the early 1806s, which formed a moderate amount of fullness from forehead level to the nape, this 1850s style concentrates all the fullness at ear-level. Wide ribbons falling on the shoulders complete the full-yet-droopy look.
Younger woman: The younger woman wears a plain dress over a wide cage crinoline. No trim details are visible on her dress, except for the dark ribbon belt/sash tied fashionably at the side front of her waist. The black cord hanging from her neck is probably a watch fob. A slim white collar fastened with a brooch completes the dress.
Her long, fair-weather coat (i.e. more decorative than functional), probably made of wool, is trimmed with two rows of ribbon around the neck and down center front. Her sleeves are also trimmed in ribbon or tape, in a vaguely military style that was faddish in the early to mid 1860s. The white handkerchief at her elbow indicates the presence of a coat pocket. She fastens only the first button; the rest of the tiny buttons which go only to rib-cage level lie unused. This button formation is unusual for the period; most coats have large buttons that extend past the waist.
Her hair is center parted and rolled away from her face and bound in back in a low coil. She carries her hat, which appears to be straw and trimmed with ribbon and possibly flowers.