Unidentified Woman 1978-80-39

George Ross’ Portrait Photograph of Unidentified Woman, 1886


Photographer: George Ross (b. Feb. 2, 1832 Edinburgh Scotland; d. ******, 1893 Petaluma, CA) 

Active in Petaluma: 1862-1893

Biographical Note: Unlike the other 19th century Petaluma photographers, Ross lived in Petaluma for many years. Arriving in Petaluma in 1855 at age 23, he began his profession as a photographer in 1862, moving his studio within the city several times as noted on his various cdv imprints.  For a short time he was also part of a photographic studio partnership, Ross and Ormsby, on Main Street in Petaluma. Ross died in Petaluma and was buried ******

Bibliography: Palmquist, pgs. 461-463; Mautz, pg.136.


Name(s): Unidentified

Description: Cabinet card of an unidentified woman. The woman is standing with her hand resting on a studio prop chair with a lace shawl draped on it. The woman is wearing a corseted, bustled dress. There is a chain hanging from her chest, and she has a large white collar, very characteristic of the 1880s.

Biographical Note: add, augment

Family Affiliation:

Bibliography: add, augment 


Format / Size:  cabinet card, approximately 10.75 x 16.5 cm

Medium: albumen photographic print mounted on cardstock

Description, Obverse: (identify group or individual, gender(s); identify pose, furniture & props; describe composition, background, added color…)

Description, Reverse: Hints to Sitters and Visitors at Ross’ Photographic Gallery. Opposite the American Hotel, Main Street, Petaluma, Cal. July 19th, 1886, will be my Twenty-fourth year in Photo business in this place. I return many thanks to my friends and the general public for their liberal patronage and support. I am working all the new dry plate processes known to the art. “Come early in the day. Do not spend the day in shopping and, then, when you are worn out with fatigue, suddenly determine to be photographed. If you do, it is sure to be a failure. Do not object to the use of the head-rest. You cannot sit still without it. The mere act of pulsation is sufficient to cause a movement that spoils a photograph. You may wink as much as you please during the exposure, but take care to keep the eyes on one spot. Avoid all forced and unnatural expressions: ‘To thine ownself be true,’ an axiom applicable to photography, though Polonius knew nothing of the art. Do not think about the photograph during the exposure; try to call up a pleasant train of thought on a totally different subject. Do not interfere with the arrangement of the posse. It is true that not one photographer in then is an artist as well; but an intelligent sitter will soon discern whether the two are combined ­-- whether he is in the hands of an artist or a muff. If visitors are allowed in the studio during the sitting, they should also conform to the foregoing hint. They should not look at the sitter during the exposure, as nothing tends so much to put a person out of countenance, as being stared out of countenance. It is not judicious to be photographed in the height of fashion. The height of fashion will most probably be the height of absurdity in six months’ time. Considerable patience and tact are required in the visitor as well as the photographer in the portraits of little children. The most charming pictures are usually those in which, after having been kept amused by the parents or attendants up to the moment of exposure, they are then left ro be amused by the artist alone. By so doing increases attention, a renewed interest, and a happy expression are gained. Children should not be allowed to form an idea that to be photographed resembles a surgical operation. The same remark is not inapplicable to adults. - Photographic World.”

Date: 1886  

Condition: (note tears, foxing, fading)

Owner:  Petaluma Historical Library & Museum, 1978-80-39

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