Victorian Picnic

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A photograph of a Victorian picnic from 1893.

I really love this old photograph for a number of reasons — number one being the informality of it. It’s not often we see the Victorians at play¬† — photographs are usually very formal affairs and we rarely see Victorians in a relaxed situation (though admittedly the little picnic group here are not exactly engulfed in smiles). The women in the middle of the image is almost certainly there as a chaperon and looks to be in widow’s weeds. Notice the fingerless gloves the girls are wearing and the bystander looking from afar at the group being photographed. I like the way the standing man is leaning nonchalantly against the tree and the fact that behind him is a lovely avenue of trees.

What I also like about the photograph is that — because the men are young — they are not encumbered by those ghastly whiskers favoured by most Victorian men. So these men don’t look so very different to a man in the street you could see today — this somehow helps to close the gap between the past and the present, for me anyway. In fact, I guess I love just about everything about this old photograph — most of all that we can get to see one moment of time in the lives of a group of strangers on that summer’s day so long ago. Seriously, that’s magical to me.


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