THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Excitement at opening of new photographic studio

From the News Letter, April 7, 1859

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 6:00 am
One of the last photos of William T Sherman, taken by Napoleon Sarony, 1888, three years before Sherman's death. Sarony's signature can be discerned in the upper left corner of the photograph

There was much interest in Belfast this week in 1859 at the opening of Mr Napoleon Sarony’s photographic studio of Bridge Street reported the News Letter.

Mr Sarony, an American who had been travelling across the British Isles, had come to Belfast with a world renowned reputation.

The correspondent had several newspaper cuttings praising Mr Sarony and his art. One came from the Leeds Mercury and declared of his photographs: “Altogether, we have seen no specimens of the photographic art so pleasing and effective.”

The paper’s correspondent added his endorsement of Mr Sarony.

They wrote: “We have seen some pictures taken by Mr Sarony, and coloured by competent miniature painters, and we have no hesitation in pronouncing them superior in every respect to any productions of the camera which we have before inspected.”

The correspondent added: “One specimen of a photograph on paper exceeds in transparent brilliancy even the best efforts of the pencil upon ivory, another in sepia combines the fidelity of the true photograph with the softness and artistic finish of a masterwork of painting.”

It was noted that one the artists “engaged” by Mr Sarony and his new enterprise was Mr T Carrick whose “miniatures have given him a worldwide celebrity”.

Referring back to the newspaper clippings previously quoted in the article the News Letter’s correspondent concluded: “From these and numerous notices of an equally favourable character, we cannot allow ourselves to doubt that Mr Sarony will have extensive patronage in Belfast to repay him amply for his visit.”