Print made in Northern Ireland.
Matilda (Wright) Kelly (?)
Clothing dated by Leslie Bellais at 1890-2.
She is wearing a wedding ring
estimated age 35-40: birth 1850-1855
Comments on identification: If the album was created by Catherine Wright, this first image
should someone important in Catherine's family. Catherine's oldest daughter, Matilda Jane, born 1851, age 39 in 1890, but this woman does
not seem to resemble others who are also identified as Matilda later in this album, such as on page 11.
A less likely alternate possibility is that this is Catherine's younger daughter, Emily Jane, born 1860, with whom Catherine lived late in life.
Leslie Bellais, Social History at the Wisconsin Historical Society) had earlier judged the
above clothing as dating from 1902-1905, but a second request for clarification brought
the following analysis:
The blousy front and droopy sleeve at the wrist is what made me think this was a 1902-1905 image,
but I decided to see if this look could have existed in the early 1890s. I also checked to see if a
sleeve puff at the shoulder line existed in the 1902-1905 era. To answer the second question first:
even though there was gathering and pleating of the sleeve at the shoulder line in 1902-1905, the puff did
not stand vertical from the shoulder. On the other hand, the most common sleeve of the 1890-1892 era was
tight from the elbow to the wrist. In fact, I would say 90-95% of the sleeves from that era had that design.
However, I have found a few dated fashion illustrations showing the same sleeve, usually called a bishop sleeve,
your woman is wearing. I’ve attached three of them here. I believe your photo is closest to the garment labeled
“Ladies’ House Toilette.” (as in figure at right) You will notice the sleeve seems to have
a droop at the wrist and the bodice front is blousy.
This blousiness is a feature left over from some 1880s dresses and is not the 1900s pouter pigeon front.
The upshot is, I stand corrected. I would now date this image 1890-1892.
Sorry for not getting this right the first time. I am always learning about the vagaries of Victorian fashion.
The woman in your photo is wearing something available in the time period, but very far from typical.