Isabella Arrighi (but which one?)

Isabella Arrighi Portrait

Isabella Arrighi Portrait - Photographer

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.

Isabella Arrighi Portrait - Writing

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!

Isabella Arrighi Portrait - front & back

Names and dates were obtained from Ancestry.co.uk and Scotlands People, but should only be used as guidance.

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8 thoughts on “Isabella Arrighi (but which one?)

  1. Great post! I’ve run into a similar situation. I’m preparing a blog about it. I also had a photo from an album with a name on the back that I knew wasn’t that person because I had photos of that person from the time she was a baby. In that situation, I believe the photo was of a friend/school mate who wrote the names of the recipients on the reverse of her photos. If I had come across that photo individually, I’d have identified her as the wrong person. Yikes!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’ve made a great point, in that it really helps to look at photographs in context, especially when it comes to identification. And that’s why I can never bring myself to break up batches of images! It really depends who writes the name on the photograph… a close relative/friend who knew the person, or someone who has a vague recollection, or (horror!) who never even met them! Good job that you can put all the puzzle pieces together with regards to your own dilemma. I’ll look forward to seeing the blog post about it 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • I almost feel like separating photos should be a criminal offence. It is upsetting that the culprits rarely even take the time to say X photo came from the same album as Y photo, or was part of the group that included this listing and that listing. So sad. 😪

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I was fascinated by this post and your previous because of the Arrighi surname.

    One of my spouse’s 3rd great-grandmothers was Cristina Arrighi, who was born/died in the province of Mantova in the Lombardia region of Italy. She was the wife of Antonio Culatina.

    Cristina Arrighi and her husband are two of my “brick wall” family members, so when I see any other people with the same unusual surnames, I am intrigued.

    Thank you for introducing us to your Arrighi ancestors.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is an unusual surname, isn’t it? At least in Edinburgh, though perhaps less so in Italy. I haven’t come across any Cristina or Antonio in my research – plenty of Isabella, Louis, Leopold(o) though. I hope you break through that brick wall soon. It would be wonderful if this branch of the Arrighi family helped in a small way! I’ll carry on sharing these photos, and if I come across anything that might help you I’ll be sure to let you know!

      Liked by 2 people

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