Notes: A carefully posed full-length albumen silver print portrait of two women, possibly Bengali, working as dirt haulers. They pose behind a small pile of soil, a shovel, and a basket partially filled with dirt. One woman balances a basket on her head. In style, this is a very typical occupational photograph. Two workers pose with their tools. It is distinctly unusual that the workers are women doing hard, manual labor.
It is difficult to determine if this photograph was taken in a studio or if the photographer posed the women against a convenient wall. The pile of dirt definitely has the character of a prop, just large enough to give the idea for the image without having an actual construction site in the frame. The photographer used a rather homemade-looking wooden structure set behind the women to help them hold still. One woman leans against it, with her elbow resting on the horizontal beam. The other woman straddles one leg, which is just visible between her feet.
A remarkable image of women at work.
Image: 3-3/4 by 5-1/2 inches, unmounted. Presented in an archival mat and held in place with clear photo corners. Captioned "Coolee women" in the negative and "Women working at 2c per day" in pencil on the back (verso).
Edition + Condition: Slight curl to the print, as is typical for unmounted albumen prints. Excellent contrast and tonal range. With a faint crease, about an inch long, visible in raking light.
Publication: [India?]: [ca. 1890].
Item No: #360837