Upper middle class women in the western world during the Victorian era were in a unique social position. They were women in a pre-feminist world, they were still privileged in many ways- able to afford clothes, food, servants, nursemaids. Because of their economic standing, many of these women had access to cameras and amateur photography early in the Victorian era; because of their social standing, they didn’t have jobs, take care of their own children, or clean their own houses- and through wealth and abundant free time a surprising fad emerged: photocollage.
In a time when painting and sketching were considered refined ladylike pursuits, these women created collages that are both artistically interesting and culturally bizarre. Their sense of humour seems straight out of 2012. In fact, the first time I saw this stuff I didn’t believe at first that it was made over a century ago.
The Art Institute of Chicago collected hundreds of these pieces into a gorgeous coffee table book, which unfortunately has become a little hard to get ahold of. But a quick Google image search for “Victorian photocollage” will provide you with enough laughs/ amazement to last quite some time.