Carte de Visite by a Very Young John Holyland
Thanks to its cancelled revenue stamp, this carte de visite can be dated to January 1865. John Holyland (1841-1931) would have been only 24 when he made it.
Holyland was born in Burlington County, New Jersey, and spent most of his career in Baltimore. But according to a biographical sketch reprinted by Baltimore photography historian Ross Kelbaugh, Holyland’s father Charles, an English-born engraver, bought a gallery in Washington for John when the youth had only been learning the photography trade for a few years, in the gallery of J. H. Young.
Holyland had not yet adopted the distinctive back-mark seen on most of his work: a sun-like disk or medallion radiating rays of light, surmounted by a snake-twined Christian cross.
In July of 1865, John Holyland married his cousin, Rebecca Hart, and returned to Baltimore, where he bought Young’s gallery and studio on 231 West Baltimore Street.
The image above reflects all of the conventions of 1860s studio photography: drapery, a diamond-motif tile floor, and a chair on which the subject could steady himself.