19th Century Victorian Balls: where are the photos?

KorbenDallas

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Balls were particularly popular during the Victorian era (1837-1901). It was a time when society was governed by strict moral precepts, and legions of guides were published on how to behave correctly, how to dress appropriately and what to say in various specific situations. Manuals on etiquette and dancing also abounded.
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This drawing above is as close as it gets, as far as resembling a photograph goes. The most of the remaining images look similar to the one below. It appears that drawings and paintings are the only visual representation we have.

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KD: We know that 19th century Victorian Balls were pretty popular. We also know that photography did exist between 1850 and 1900.
  • Question: Where are the photographs? Do we have at least one? May be I searched it all wrong.
 

tupperaware

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I think figuring out the reasons why we are missing things like this one, as well as:
could shed some light on some of the 19th century mystery.

Probably because indoor shots at the time even with ballroom lighting required 20 seconds or so for a decent image which was impractical for so many people "typically" at a victorian ball. Artificial lighting from touch powder magnesium powder or whatever they used back then would not have worked either.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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Probably because indoor shots at the time even with ballroom lighting required 20 seconds or so for a decent image which was impractical for so many people "typically" at a victorian ball. Artificial lighting from touch powder magnesium powder or whatever they used back then would not have worked either.
I doubt this is the case:
It appears that our understanding of the 19yj century photography is way off:
 

tupperaware

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The rare hotel photos show what looks like many large windows midday. But assuming you are right and something is amiss maybe its related to "depopulation" and there not being any Victorian Balls because there were not enough people for that.
 

BStankman

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Probably because indoor shots at the time even with ballroom lighting required 20 seconds or so for a decent image which was impractical for so many people "typically" at a victorian ball. Artificial lighting from touch powder magnesium powder or whatever they used back then would not have worked either.
Come on now. These are like some kind of prom photos taken at the ball.


Take a look for yourself.
They obviously did not want the god fearing commoners to see what debauchery was going on.
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eyes wide shut

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tupperaware

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I think the Magicians of Light at the Ball wanted to be in complete control of a photo and they certainly are in these portraits. The same kind of image quality for an entire ballroom filled with people would take probably one hundred times more "synchronized" flash lighting. That would be around 10 lbs of magnesium flash powder. :oops:

A short history of flash photography

You are right about the debauchery. I zoomed into one of the photos and found an obvious Sheela na gig image lurking in the shadows.

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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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With kings and queens attending those Balls, they could afford 10 tons of magnesium if they needed. But I don't think they needed any magnesium.
Additionally: The arc light (or “electric candle”) was invented and demonstrated by Sir Humphry Davy in 1802 in England. Davy, who can be considered the true founder of electric lighting, discovered that a blinding white light was produced by hooking up two charcoal rods to a battery, and bringing them very close together.

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Then, in 1840 W.R. Grove invented one of the first incandescent electric lights, which was later perfected by Thomas Edison.

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In 1876 Pavel Yablochkov invents the Yablochkov candle.

Yablochkov candles illuminating Music hall on la Place du Chateau d'eau ca 1880
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Pavel Nikolayevich Yablochkov - Engineering and Technology History Wiki

I just picked a few.
 

JWW427

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Its quite possible photographers were not invited to balls simply because royals and celebs and rich folks did not want pictures of themselves in the press or elsewhere. Just like today, many illuminati "balls" are severely private.
Just a thought.
JWW
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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Its quite possible photographers were not invited to balls simply because royals and celebs and rich folks did not want pictures of themselves in the press or elsewhere. Just like today, many illuminati "balls" are severely private.
Just a thought.
JWW
Personally, I do not see this as a possibility. The amount of the balls of various scales all over the world was in ridiculous numbers.

This is not the only type of events photographic proof of which we are missing. There are only so many possible explanations for this lack of evidence extending beyond mere plausibility.
 

JWW427

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Given that, KD, we must assume the negatives were all destroyed.
The question is why?
A ball is a fancy ritual, a tradition, a social must-do, sizing up the mating competition, business and pleasure. Preening and prancing. War of the sexes.
Male vs. male one-upmanship with much drink.
Lets keep looking for at least one photo.
JWW

Wait, I found one and colorized it! 1886.

The High Victorian Era By 1870, social dances were now those of one's parents, or even grandparents. The ballroom was slowly becoming the domain of high society's Old Guard. As dancing become less exciting, fewer people devoted themselves to mastering the full repertoire of dances. One-by-one, the Mazurka, Schottische, Redowa and Polka began to fade. Dance masters formed professional associations in an attempt to save their trade, but these organizations mostly resulted in the standardization and codification of dance steps, which further dampened the public's enthusiasm. Dance masters invented dozens of new steps in an attempt to revive interest, but the public remained largely indifferent. High society balls shifted their emphasis to the "German" parlor cotillion games, featuring expensive favors (prizes). Middle class public balls saw the great variety of dances dwindle to just two: the Waltz and Two-Step. By the end of the century, dancers were ready for something completely different. After centuries of innovations created by European leaders of society, they would not have guessed that the next wave of popular dance and music would come from America's lower classes.

19th century India ball.jpeg1886 ball for sure!.jpeg
 
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Satsujinki

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Victorian Balls...Victorian Era. Could these have been exclusive to victors of a great war?
 

Banta

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Given that, KD, we must assume the negatives were all destroyed.
Or you had to check your camera (and dignity maybe) at the door? ... Or they didn't really ever happen? Maybe that's how you dress when you get on the ship to the Undying Lands?
 
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