This cabinet card portrait features a pretty young woman wearing a dark dress full of distractions. The buttons on the dress are quite prominent and she is also wearing a collar jewelry and a corsage. Hanging from her chain necklace is a ring. One can hypothesize that the ring belongs to her husband or her beau. The woman’s hair is mussed but I imagine that we are looking at a hairstyle and not laziness or apathy on her part. This photograph was taken at the Kibbe studio in Johnstown, New York. William H. Kibbe (1846-1910) was born in Johnstown. As a school student he exhibited a great deal of talent via his pen and pencil sketching. He then worked briefly as a paint shop decorator but soon found more satisfying work at the studio of renowned engraver Vistus Balch. While working there he assisted in the production of engravings from drawings by Felix Octavius Carr Darley who was famous for his illustrations appearing in Charles Dickens’ novels. During this time Kibbe became acquainted with Napoleon Sarony’s portraits which contributed to his becoming an apprentice with photographer James F. Ryder. From this apprenticeship, Kibbe learned about every aspect of operating a photography studio and in 1871 he opened his own studio at 123 West Main Street in the “Kibbe building”.  His studio was decorated with his own oil and watercolor paintings and he was often joined there by his wife and son (Arthur Fonclair Kibbe) who would assist him. Kibbe was a major contributor to several photographic journals. His obituary appears in Wilson’s Photographic Magazine (1910). A portrait of Mr. Kibbe can be seen below.


Published in: on November 17, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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  1. The quality of this portrait is superb … Mr. Kibbe knew what he was about. The lighting of the face, the naturalness of the lips, blow it up and look at those eyes. And the lady completely controls her looks, everything exactly as she chooses, including the casual hair style. She was perhaps ahead of her time … maybe our time, too, for that matter. On close look I don’t think that is a man’s ring … adds a touch of mystery, though, to pique our curiosity. I never fail to marvel at and admire what some of these people achieved with the equipment and technology of the day. Thanks so much for showing.

  2. Lovely photo. Thanks for the bio information. I know that in the 1880s bangs made a resurgence in fashion, but her style of choice for this portrait is all bangs! Gorgeous hair.

  3. Love the ‘full of distractions’ observation! Perhaps she is wearing a chatelaine brooch?

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