SOPHUS WILLIAMS : PORTRAIT OF A PRETTY YOUNG WOMAN BY A MASTER PHOTOGRAPHER

This lovely cabinet card was a very difficult photograph to research. I encountered two primary problems. First, who is Matin? Her name is listed beneath her photo. She clearly is a pretty young woman who appears to be in her teenage years. She is wearing a sleeveless low-cut blouse. Apparently, she likes jewelry. She is wearing a flamboyant beaded bracelet, hoop earrings, and a ring. Is she an actress or some other type of celebrity? I have thus far, failed in my attempt to identify her. The second problem that I encountered is the difficulty I had finding biographical information about the photographer, Sophus Williams. It is ironic, his photographs are cited in many articles and they appear in multiple esteemed museums. However, getting details about his life, is akin to researching someone in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Here is what I learned. Sophus Williams’s actual name was Sophus Vilhelm Schou. He was of Danish origin but became a German photographer and publisher. He was born in Copenhagen in 1835 and he died in Grabow, Germany in 1900. He went to London in 1859 and at an unknown date, went to Berlin where he passed himself off as being British. He was married to Agnes Klitz (1843-1911). In 1868, Sophus partnered with businessman Rudolph Gustav Leonhard Reinhold Knaak , to buy out an art dealer’s trading company (E. Linde & Co). The firm was located in Berlin, Germany. Sophus Williams published the work of many photographers and participated in Vienna’s 1873 World Exhibition. Williams’s publishing firm was well known for many formats, including Stereoscopic photos, Carte de Visite images, Cabinet Cards, and Leporellos. What are Leporellos? They are printed material folded into an “accordion-pleat” style. The method is also known as a “concertina fold”. Williams’s “Linde & Co” was well known for their photographs of paintings. Williams was active in Berlin through much of the 1860’s and 1880’s. Sophus Williams succumbed to a heart attack in 1900. His work can be found in high profile museums such as J Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles, CA) and the George Eastman Museum (Rochester, NY), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), The British Museum (London, England), and The Altes Museum (Berlin). On the reverse of this cabinet card is the printed date 1878 and a credit to Sophus Williams. An inscription located on the reverse of the photograph labels the photo a “souvenir” and confirms the 1878 date. This cabinet card portrait is in very good condition (see scans).

Buy this Vintage Cabinet Card (includes shipping within the US) #3351

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$65.00

Buy this Cabinet Card Photograph (includes International shipping outside the US) 3351

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$74.00

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “MATIN” is the French word for “MORNING”. Maybe reading was this gals morning activity. It would be interesting to find a photograph labeled “SOIR” (“EVENING”) to see if it is truly an opposite!
    –Erik in NW Ohio

    • Thanks for the translation and for sharing your thoughts about this photograph. You may be correct. Perhaps this image is part of a series.


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