One of the Bye-Ways of Life

One of the Bye-Ways of Life

Photograph of boy and girl, boy leaning on trustle, girl with pitcher in hand ⎯Description appended to copyright for this work in 1863 held in The National Archives at Kew (England)

This classic genre study of a chance meeting between a young farm hand leaning on a type of ladder (perhaps in a barn hayloft) while a young teenage girl carrying a milking jug stops to ponder the encounter is believed to have been included in a group of 7 photographs “Studies after different styles- exhibit #s 888-895” exhibited by Mayall in the Photographic Department at The International Exhibition of 1862 in London. (1.)

Some descriptions of this photographic grouping appeared in an 1862 issue of London’s Photographic News, June 20, vol. VI, #198, p. 292:

Mr. Mayall contributes some genre studies, which will, however, bear out his reputation for being unequal.  Some of these are very charming pictures, and deserve a much better light than that in which they are hung.  “The Great Light shines through the Smallest Window” is a very beautiful picture; the scene is an humble cottage in which a little child reads the Book which contains the words of hope and peace to man; to which an aged peasant listens with evident attention.  The subject, the composition, and the photography, are alike good.  “A real Ten-pounder” is another good picture, an illustration of an election jeu de mots, the ten—pounder not merely representing a ten-pound householder, but a ten-pound note, which the “hon. Member for Tipem” has slipped into Hodge’s hand whilst asking his “vote and interest.”  The story is cleverly told, the photography is good, and the picture is interesting to many, as containing an admirable portrait of Mr. Mayall himself, and one of Alfred Crowquill, as the “honourable member.”  There are some other pictures of the same class, and one entitled, if we remember rightly, “One more Unfortunate,” which is a sad travestie on Solomon’s “Drowned, drowned,” exhibited at the Academy two or three years ago.”

John Jabez Edwin Mayall was the first person to photograph Queen Victoria. The National Portrait Gallery in London provides the following brief biography:

Born in 1813, John Jabez Edwin Mayall, né Jabez Meal, opened a daguerreotype studio in Philadelphia in the early 1840s. He soon moved to Britain where he helped to establish the American Daguerreotype Association in London. In 1851 he set up his own studio in London, photographing Queen Victoria and members of the royal family throughout the 1860s. Mayall became famous with his cartes-de-visite of the Queen and H.R.H. the Prince Consort, which sold tens of thousands of copies. Mayall left London for Brighton in the mid-1860s where he continued his photography and became involved in local politics. He died in London in 1901. The National Portrait Gallery holds more than 160 of his photographs.

1.  The International Exhibition of 1862, officially the London International Exhibition of Industry and Art, also known as the Great London Exposition, was a world’s fair held from 1 May to 1 November 1862 in South KensingtonLondon, England.

One of the Bye-Ways of Life

Image Dimensions26.1 x 19.5 | 26.6 x 20.4 cm pasted, with slight edge losses | albumen salt print?

Support Dimensions34.0 x 25.6 cm card, most likely not native to print

Exhibitions | Collections

London: Otto Herschan Collection/Getty Images: oversized albumen print pasted to card with the following letterpress in lower recto margin: One of the Bye-Ways of Life. (Photographed from life by J.E. Mayall, 224 Regent Street/ Published by Messrs.. Marion & Co. Soho Square/ Entd. at Stationer (a great many thanks to Matthew Butson and Melanie Llewellyn at London’s Getty Images, Hulton Archive for confirming Mayall attribution and title for this photograph.


Purchased for this archive in October, 2022 from an Edinburgh dealer in photographs.