This is probably one of my favourite portraits and, like the previous portrait of Louis Arrighi, was taken by the studio of Scottish photographer John Campbell Harper. From the fashion of the day (the dress and hairstyle) I would estimate the date as mid-1910s. The ‘Campbell Harper’ studio started life in Leith Walk around 1908, so this date would be consistent.
The inscription on the back of the photograph identifies the sitter as Isabella Arrighi, born 1894 and therefore around 20 to 25 years old. Hmm. With no disrespect, I suspect the lady in the portrait was older than this.
So is the inscription wrong?
A little research shows there were several Isabellas in the Arrighi family.
The Isabella Arrighi identified by the inscription was grand-daughter of Louis Arrighi and daughter of Louis’ eldest son, Louis John Arrighi (b.1863). But in my view, she can be discounted on the basis of being too young.
Louis Arrighi’s wife was also called Isabella. Born in 1841, she died in 1910 prior to the likely date of this photograph. So she can also be discounted.
Another Isabella Arrighi was daughter of Louis’ older brother, Leopoldo Arrighi. She was born around 1862 in Edinburgh, although a precise age is difficult to obtain due to her shaving a few years off as the decades went on! She died in 1939 and would have been in her fifties during the 1910s.
Lastly, Louis’ own daughter was called Isabella Richardson Arrighi. She was born in 1869 and died (unmarried) in 1929, being buried with her parents at Comely Bank Cemetery, Edinburgh. During the 1910s she would have been in her forties and in my opinion is the most likely candidate for this portrait, not only because of her age, but also because I found the portrait alongside that of Louis Arrighi (see previous blog post).
There could of course be other Isabella Arrighis’ I have yet to come across.
This all begs the question as to why the inscription is incorrect? And also acts as a warning against taking any named photograph at face value. A small amount of research can go a long way, although it can also muddy the waters!