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Lauder family group - the wife, six sons and three of the four daughters of Edmund Stanley Lauder (c 1828-1891) photographer and proprietor of Lauder Brothers, Dublin. (Photograph from private collection.)
The sitters are identified below the photograph, listed according to their last known names.

Lauder family group

  • Sarah Lauder née Stack (c 1828-1913) wife of Edmund Stanley Lauder (top centre)
  • James Stack Lauder (James Lafayette) (1853-1923) photographer and managing director of Lafayette Ltd 1898-1923 (top left)
  • George Marsh Lauder (George Lafayette) (1858-1922) photographer and manager of Lafayette Glasgow branch
  • Edmund Stanley Lauder Jnr. (1859-1895) photographer and property developer
  • Robert Enraight Lauder (1861-1938) medical officer of health
  • William Harding Lauder (1866-1918) photographer and co- managing director of Lafayette Ltd 1898-1918 (left)
  • Thomas Campion Lauder (1873-1943) Lieut-Colonel RAMC (bottom centre)
  • Lydia Harding Sproule née Lauder (1857 - )
  • Sarah Harding Hatte née Lauder (1865 - )
  • Harriet Barry formerly Hatte née Lauder (1868-1933).

Photographer James Stack Lauder (1853 – 1923) was born on 22 January 1853. He was the eldest son in a family of six sons and four daughters of photographer Edmund Stack Lauder (1824 – 1891) and his wife Sarah Stack (1828 – 1913). He was baptised on 18 March 1853 at St George’s parish church, Hardwicke Place, Dublin. James served his apprenticeship at this father’s daguerrotype portrait studio in Dublin in the 1860s.

James Lauder studied painting in Paris and worked in a photographic studio in Berlin. In 1880, he opened his own studio in Dublin that became established as the firm Lafayette. In 1884 he entered the Photographic Society of Great Britain’s annual show and was awarded a medal for his first entry, he was also elected a member. In the spring of 1885 Alexandra, the Princess of Wales was photographed at his studio after receiving an honorary degree while visiting Ireland. The image of the princess photographed in this scholarly pose was incredibly popular and over 60,000 prints were sold. In 1887, Lauder was summoned to photograph Queen Victoria in her Golden Jubilee year and became the first Irish photographer to be granted the royal warrant. In the same year he married Annie, the daughter of artist, Felix Pierre Dinnette. Annie and James had three sons and four daughters.

James Lauder won many medals at exhibitions, including the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle. At an exhibition in Chicago in 1893 Lauder showed a large-scale study of a floating angel, which was noted by HW Vogel professor of photography and critic as the ‘grandest exhibit in the English division’. Years later Lauder explained how he created this image, the model was not suspended by wires but was positioned horizontally on a sheet of glass with the perspective background beneath and photographed from above. In the 1890s the Lafayette firm expanded with new branch studios in Glasgow, Manchester, Belfast and London and in 1898 became a publicly quoted company. At the same time developments were occurring in the half-tone printing process which resulted in the increase of illustrated weekly magazines. Lauder was one of the first photographers who recognised the opportunities offered by syndicating photographs and his studies and portraits of distinguished men and women from society and the stage appeared in a series of newly launched magazines.

In 1897 Lauder moved to London. He was commissioned by the Duchess of Devonshire to record the guests at her Diamond Jubilee costume ball and remained very much in demand with Society and its followers until the turn of the century. At this time younger competitors started to take commissions from the fashionable market while Lauder’s style of photography remained in the Victorian style. In Ireland the Lafayette studio was still going strong and its promotional photography for the motorcycle and motorcar explored new ways of looking at landscape.

Lafayette is credited with creating thousands of images but only 649 photographs registered for copyright bear the signature of James Lauder as author.

Lafayette’s work has featured in exhibitions at the Queen’s Gallery, London (1987), the Guinness Museum, Dublin (1989) and the National Portrait Gallery, London (1998).

On 20 August 1923, James Lauder died at the Hospital St Jean, Bruges.