Saami women

Saami women
Accession number: 
Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

Portrait of two Saami women, standing, wearing distinctive hats (ládjogahpir).

Photographer: Unknown; issued by Braekstad (Trondheim, Norway), labelled ‘Braekstad & Co.’
Date of photograph: Circa 1870s
Continent: Europe
Geographical area: Northern Europe
Country: Norway
Region/Place: Trondheim
Cultural group: European Saami
Format: Carte de visite
Size: 101 x 62 mm
Acquisition: Joan Evans. Donated August 1941


Exhibition label: ‘One of a selection of cartes de visite showing portraits of Saami people. The photographs were taken or sold by several different studios in Norway and Sweden, including those of Jørgen Wickstrøm in Tromsø, Rosalie Sjöman in Stockholm and Braekstad & Co., a stationers based in Trondheim. The carte de visite was a popular early form of traded image, patented in Paris in 1854 and widely produced until replacement by the larger cabinet card two decades later. These cartes de visite were collected by Arthur Evans, probably some time after his own visit to Lapland in 1873, but revealing an ongoing interest in the region and its people. Among the most striking are those by Marcus Selmer, who is recorded as one of the earliest photographers in Scandinavia. Selmer was a Danish pharmacist who moved to Bergen in 1851 and established a photography studio there, specialising initially in daguerreotypes, but later embarking on a project to photograph people and their costumes from across the country. The hand-painted prints, with their bright blues and reds, would have reminded Evans of his own travels in the region, where he was stuck by the colourful sense of dress, writing of “elaborate embroidery” and the hat worn by women like “Minerva’s helmet, exquisitely graceful”.’ Source: ‘Travels in Finland and Bosnia-Herzegovina: An Ethnographic Collection of Sir Arthur Evans’, exhibition curated by Philip Grover, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, 29 April to 1 September 2013.

Primary documentation: ‘[p.588] Dr. JOAN EVANS, from the property of the late SIR ARTHUR EVANS, Youlbury, Boars Hill, Oxford. [List of items follows]’; ‘[p.590] 38 photographs, many coloured, of Lapp types, in box’: Pitt Rivers Museum accession records (Donations X, 1937–1941), pp.588, 590. Notes on mount: ‘BRAEKSTAD & CO.,/ BOG & PAPIRHANDLERE,/ THRONDHJEM./ UDSALG OG FORLAG/ AF/ Norske Prospekter,/ Nationaldragter./ PORTRAETTER AF BEROMTE MAEND/ og Photographier efter/ BEKJENDTE MALERIER M. M.’ (printed on reverse of mount card).

Research notes: This carte de visite has been identified as a photograph issued by Braekstad & Co., taken from the printed information on the reverse. It should be noted that Braekstad was a seller of paper goods in Trondheim and the issuer (i.e. seller) of this carte de visite, not the photography studio per se. It has further been identified by Philip Grover that this photograph was one of those copied and reproduced in Carl Dammann’s Anthropologisch-Ethnologisches Album (Hamburg, undated [1873–4]), in the section on ‘Europa: Finnen und Lappen (Russland)’ (Europe, table 4). It was not, however, reproduced subsequently in C. and F. W. Dammann’s smaller, English-language Ethnological Photographic Gallery of the Various Races of Men (London, undated [1875]).