These stereoviews were in a set of 15 which were originally made in France in the 1910s. The mounts show they were taken by a photographer with a studio in Paris and the clothing style shows French military uniforms as well as French fashion typical of the era.
I do not know much about the photographer unfortunately, A. Maurice at 209 Rue de Faubourg-Saint-Denis, Paris, but his business is mentioned in the 1911 and 1915 Paris trade registers. Sadly there are no other details about the stereoviews such as the names of the happy couple or the year.
The mounts are wooden and the photographs are silver-gelatin on glass plate positives; when held in a certain light the emulsion on the glass has a metallic sheen which indicates the process used. By the 1910s photography exposure times had greatly improved and with sufficient light could be fractions of a second (which is maybe why all these photographs were taken outdoors in daylight). The dry-plate silver-gelatin method also allowed photographers much more freedom because the emulsion didn’t have to still be wet for the exposure and they didn’t have to instantly develop the images (which they had to previously with wet-plate collodion), they could do this at their own leisure so it allowed for the commercialisation of wedding photography outside of photographic studios.
Silver-gelatin glass stereoviews are quite prone to scratches on the emulsion and so I have spent two hours using Photoshop to digitally clean and repair these nine images after scanning them at 4000dpi using an Epson V8000 Photo scanner. I scanned the glass images and mounts separately because if you scan the glass as a transparency, the mount appears black and if you scan the mount, the glass image appears black. I used these separate scans to reconstruct each image in Photoshop by remounting them digitally. If I was going to project these images I would also use Stereo Photo Maker to ensure the left and right images match using the Auto Colour Adjust tool and also the Clone Brush tool to remove some of the scratches and discolouration which I couldn’t remove with the Spot Healing Brush and Clone Stamp tools in Photoshop. I would also align them properly using SPM and remove the gap in the middle. I have to say that looking at them in a Brewster-style stereoscope is so much easier and much more enjoyable!
The depiction of weddings in stereoviews seems to have evolved with time. The 1850s genre-views used posed models in studios showing scenes inside and outside of pretend churches. They looked very serious affairs which were not particularly inviting, despite titles such as ‘The Happiest Day of My Life’. ‘The Happiest Day of My Life’ is a stereoview by Michael Burr and shows a wedding party outside of a church as the newly-married couple are leaving after the ceremony. The bride appears to be the only one who looks remotely happy, with a half-smile/smug-face; the grumpy groom definitely doesn’t appear to be classing this as the happiest in his life! There is also a variant called ‘Smiles and Tears’ which shows a similar scene but with the addition of a lady in the background with a hand held dramatically against her lowered forehead, the other hand holding a handkerchief and a lowered sad gaze as she looks despairingly at the ground. She appears to be the jilted lover and it doesn’t look like the most enjoyable of weddings. These are just two examples by Burr but there are many more by him and others, for example Elliot, Eastlake, Silvester, which all show quite sombre affairs.
I have also seen a rare stereoview from the late 1850s of a real wedding couple stood in their wedding clothes outside of the photographer’s studio and they also look very serious. In this era the exposure times were so long in dimly lit churches that it would have been very difficult to have photographed a live ceremony inside a church (genre-scene models could hold still in well-lit studios and a darkroom for immediate production and development of the glass plates could be nearby); however it is also very difficult to find Victorian stereoviews of any real wedding parties, even outside in good lighting.
In the late 1800s/ early 1900s American publishers especially seemed to depict more joy in staged wedding scenes. The Keystone View Company and H.C. White published a series showing the build-up, ceremony and aftermath of a wedding and there are definitely smiles in several of the views and even a scene of congratulations; had wedding customs changed by this time or were the shorter exposure times for taking the photos just making it easier to smile?
I really liked this set of French stereoviews because the wedding couple and most of their guests look genuinely happy (some guests however forgot to tell their faces that it was a happy event). You feel like you want to be part of this past event and are happy to step back in time and be engrossed by the 3-D depth.
I also like that these images are not perfectly aligned or in the stereo-window. Some of them I have moved digitally for easier viewing when one image was much higher than the other but I purposely haven’t fully aligned them to show that people shouldn’t get so hung-up on perfection in every single stereoview. This was a commercial studio, about 70 years after stereoscopy had first been presented to the world and they still couldn’t align their images perfectly or get everything in the window (such as guests too close to the camera – see below).
I must point out that I reduced the size of these images to upload them for my blog so viewing them authentically in person with a Brewster-style stereoscope is much better but I am still happy that I am able to share them in some way.
I hope you enjoy these stereoviews as much as I do but please try not to throw rice or even shoes at the screen (as was customary to some at the time!).
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