Charles Dickens' wife photo makes $13,835 at Bonhams

A rare photo of Charles Dickens' wife, Catherine, sold today (May 17) as part of Bonhams' photographs sale.

Charles Dickens wife Catherine Photograph
This photograph of Dicken's wife could be missing its other half

The photograph was first discovered in an antique camera shop and was originally believed to be an image of Dickens' sister. However, when the item was examined more closely, experts soon identified it as his wife, Catherine.

It is believed to be the only daguerreotype photograph of Catherine in existence. The artist behind the piece is John Jabez Edwin Mayall, a prominent photographer who took the first carte-de-visite photographs of Queen Victoria.

Charles Dickens' letters show that he sat for Mayall in 1852, the same year as the patent date inscribed on the photograph, suggesting the two images may have been intended as a pair. The subsequent photograph of Charles was sold at Christie's in 2001 for £39,950 ($61,195).

The image of Catherine fared less well with a final price of £8,750 ($13,835). The daguerreotype was sold along with two ivory passes to the 1870 Italian Opera, printed with the name "Miss Dickens" which suggests the lot may have been a gift to the Dickens' eldest daughter, Mary.

The top lot of the Bonhams sale was provided by a stunning 1960 work by Peter Beard. The photograph, entitled Giraffes in Mirage on the Taru Desert, sold for £25,000 ($39,522).

The auction also featured a section dedicated to the NSPCC Rebuilding Childhoods campaign, with several photographs donated by celebrities. In a clash of supermodels past and present, a striking 1966 shot of Twiggy made £6,875 ($10,868), while Kate Moss' topless photograph brought £5,250 ($8,299).

PFC Auctions is currently accepting bids on a fantastic autographed image of another supermodel, Claudia Schiffer. See more signed photographs in the auction here.



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