James Lafayette

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James Lafayette was the pseudonym of James Stack Lauder (1853-1923). He was a late Victorian and Edwardian portrait photographer, and managing director from 1898 to 1923 of a company in Dublin specializing in society photographs, Lafayette Ltd. In 1887, he became the first Irish photographer to be granted the royal warrant.

Edmund was a pioneering and successful photographer who had opened a daguerreotype studio in Dublin in 1853. In 1880 James Stack Lauder founded his own photography studio, using for the first time the professional name of James Lafayette “late of Paris” and naming his studio variously “Jacques Lafayette,” “J. Lafayette,” and “Lafayette” as an indication of his artistic training in the City of Lights. He was joined in the new business by his three brothers, all of whom were experienced photographers who had worked in their father’s studio. In 1884 he was elected member of the Photographic Society of Great Britain, and thereafter his entries in the multitudinous photographic competitions around Britain and in Europe started winning him medals for “exceptionally fine portraits.” By 1885, the studio’s output was praised in print by the Photographic Society of Great Britain as “very beautiful, being distinguished for delicacy of treatment...” and Lafayette’s early experiments with hand-colouring produced images that were described as “permanent carbon photographs painted in water-colour on porce- lain,” and the new specialist photographic press waxed generally lyrical over the fine quality of “Monsieur Lafayette’s” portraiture [1].