Figure 1.--Here is Percy before he was breached. It is the second portrait after breaching that is dated 1888, but the identical hair style and props suggest that the portraits were taken at the same time. Click on the image to see Peercy afyer he was breached. Image coutesy of the RG collection.
We do not know anything about Percy's later life, but we have two fascinating portraits when he was 6 years old. The portraits are breeching images from Scotland. The photographer is from Lamb late P. Devine, Artist. Edinburgh. I think that means Lamb took over the Devine studio. The advertisement on the back states that they maintain all negatives and have enlarging and painting of photographs. The portraits are phjotographs that have been painted over in color. The child is Percy A. W. Summers, 6 years old. The second photographs was taken on Feb. 7, 1888. He looks domewhat younger in the first photograph, so it may have been taken earlier. However, the hair and props look identical in both photographs, which implies that he changed clothes at studio. He probably was breeched on 6th birthday at the studio.
The child is Percy A. W. Summers, 6 years old. We do not know anything about Percy's later life, but we have two fascinating portraits when he was 6 years old. The portraits are breeching images from Scotland. The fact that the portrait was taken in Edinburgh suggests that the Summers family probably lived there.
The portraits are photographs that have been painted over in color. It can be observed here that the portrait is very heavily painted over. This not seem to have been a very popular process. We note raher few examples in the photographic record. We note a lot of post cards with color added during the 20th century, but few of these psinted over photographic portraits.
The second photographs was taken on Feb. 7, 1888. Percy looks slightly younger in the first photograph, so it may have been taken earlier, but perhaps this is because ghe is wearing a dress. The hair and props look identical in both photographs, however,which implies that he changed clothes at studio. He probably was breeched on 6th birthday at the studio.
Percy in the first photograph is wearing a cream colored dress, which is decorated with many small daisies. The dress has an open neckline. It was becoming increasingly common at the time for both boys and girls to wear collars enclosing the neck. The dress has blue bows on the
shoulders and is tied at the waist with a wide blue sash. We are not yet sure if this use of blue had gender connotatiions. The sash is tied in a bow at the back of the dress. The sash and the bows
look to be make out of satin. He wears short stockings and black mary jane shoes. This first outfit has no boyish touches. If it were
not for the information on the photographs, I would assume that this was a picture of a little girl.
Note that Percy had long uncurled hair worn with bangs. In both photographs he
has the same hairdo, long, uncurled brown hair reaching to below his shoulders with short bangs. Some boys had their hair cut before they were breached. Others had their hair cut at the same time they were breached. Percy;s mother took the third option. She decided to cut his hair after he was breached. Thus he has the same hair cut in both portraits. We wonder just when Percy had hos hair cut. At age 6 years he was near the age to beggin school. We suspect he came from an affluent family. Perhaps he was titored at hiome for a while. He would have had to have his hair cut before beginning school.
In the second photograph Percy wear a sailor suit with kneepants and long black stockings. The suit has a blue sailor collar with matching blue wrist trim. The collar looks almost as if it was added to the suit and not attached, rather like a scarfe. Notice also what look like two little balls used to tie it in place. Percy wears the same mary jane shoes.
Despite the long hair, he now looks like a little boy. Note that he wears white socks with the dress, but long black stockings with the sailor suit.
One of the most important events in a boys life was his breeching. Donning trousers, or breeches in the 18th Century, signaled to the world that a boy was growing up. Dressing like his father has always been important to a boy. But it is an event that has been poorly chronicled by the social historian. In part this is because most
social historians are women and they often fail to recognize the importance of the event to a boy. There are many unanswered questions about breeching. One of the most interesting is if a boy was only bought a party suit with knee pants and continued to wear dresses for a while at home when not dressing for special occasions.
Or was a complete new wardrobe purchased for him. Perhaps different families did it differently. Perhaps practices varied by country or social class. Little appears to have been written ob the subject.
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