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Photograph: Abbottsford
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Title: Photograph: Abbottsford
Identifier: 2001.5.45
Donor: Geoffrey Sayers
Item Date: 1870-1876
Creation Date: 2011
Location: Benares Historic House

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Description: A black and white photographic print. The print depicts a man in a long coat and hat standing in a row boat using a pole to manoeuvre it to shore. The row boat also has two paddles. The boat is in a small pond with a rocky shore. Written on the side of the boat is “Abbottsford. 103. G.W.W.” Behind the pond is a small hill with a fence running along it and some trees. In the background is a large, elaborate manor house with a lawn and a forest behind it.

Abbotsford is the house of Sir Walter Scott, the famous 19th century author. Scott purchased the land in 1811 which is located on the banks of the River Tweed in the Scottish borderlands. William Atkinson was the architect for the house which took 6 years to complete and was finished in 1824. The furniture was designed by George Bulloch and built by local craftsmen. The house was opened to the public for the first time in 1833, five months after Scott’s death and continues to receive visitors. The house contains a collection of historic items, weapons and armour and a library of 9,000 rare volumes. http://www.melrose.bordernet.co.uk/abbotsford/

“George Washington Wilson (1823-1893) was a Scottish photographer. After studying art in Edinburgh and London, he returned to his native city of Aberdeen in 1849 and established a business as a portrait miniaturist catering to the wealthy families of the North East of Scotland. In 1852 Wilson ventured into portrait photography. With his well-developed technical and commercial acumen and a contract to photograph the Royal Family while documenting the building of Balmoral Castle in 1854-1855, he established himself as one of Scotland's premier photographers. Pioneering the development of techniques for photography outside of the studio and the mass production of photographic prints, Wilson moved increasingly from portraiture to landscape photography in the 1860s. He also produced stereoscopic pictures whose main characteristic was that exposures were very short. By 1864 he claimed to have sold over half a million prints. The firm was one of the largest publishers of photographic prints in the world, competing with James Valentine, who was also a prolific photographer, with a large company in Dundee. The business survived until 1908, when it was wound up at auction.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington_Wilson

Traveler’s in the 1870’s could not take their own photographs, so professional photographers would create albums with photos like these and sell them to travelers to commemorate their journey. In 1871 Elizabeth (Bessie) and Annie Harris (daughters of James Beveridge and Elizabeth) traveled to Europe to do a tour of Scotland, Ireland and England. In 1876, Lucy and Arthur Harris traveled to Scotland to visit their aunts in Perthshire. James Beveridge Harris’s sisters, Margaret Patton and Matilda Lindsay, both lived at Rose Terrace, Perth, with their cousin Margaret Anne Patton in the 1870s and 1880s. These photos could have come from any of those trips or have been sent by the Aunts, to the family at Benares.
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