The Photographers


J. P. Mayall, ca. 1875, by C. Dickson

Joseph Parkin Mayall (1839–1922), formerly Joe Meal, was born in Huddersfield, Yorksire,[1] the second son of John Jabez Edwin Mayall (1813–1901), a daguerreotypist of great renown, and his wife, Eliza Parkin. The couple had three sons and a daughter.[2] J. J. E. Mayall was born in Oldham, Lancashire, but it was during his travels in the United States that he first established himself as a photographer. He gained considerable popularity in Philadelphia before he returned to England in 1846, opening a photography studio at 433 Strand under the name “American Daguerreotype Institute.”[3] Mayall soon became one of the most successful photographers in London and was invited to photograph the royal family in 1855. Many, including Queen Victoria herself, thought him a talented but odd man, and he was often mistaken for an American.[4] In 1863, Mayall settled with his wife in Brighton, where he opened a photography studio. Here, he became involved in local politics, eventually serving as mayor from 1877 to 1878.[5]

Photography seems to have become something of a family business. Joseph (Joe) Parkin Mayall and his brothers Edwin and John all followed their father into photography. Joe Mayall recalled assisting his father “in photographing great and illustrious personages,” including members of the royal family.[6] Between them, the Mayalls operated a total of eighteen studios in London, Brighton, and Melbourne, Australia. John Mayall seems to have worked in Brighton with his father, while Edwin took over the London studio.[7]            

Joe Mayall first gained importance in the Brighton branches, likely operating a studio there in the late 1860s.[8] In 1861, he married Ann Toye (b. 1839), with whom he had three daughters, Eliza, Amy, and Marion, both of whom would eventually become his studio assistants. In 1870, the Mayalls moved to Australia, where Amy was born,[9] and Joe Mayall opened “Mayall and Sons,” a branch of his father’s studio, at 57 Collins Street, East Melbourne. During his time in Australia, Mayall exhibited portrait photography at the 1870 Sydney Intercontinental Exhibition and the 1872 Victorian Intercontinental Exhibition.[10] On June 5, 1876, Mayall was giving his eldest daughter, Eliza, a bath on the roof when she overbalanced and fell thirteen feet through the house’s double skylight. She did not survive the accident and the family left Australia soon after this devastating event.[11]  By 1877 they had resettled in Brighton, where Mayall ran a studio at 6 North Street Quadrant.[12] 

On his marriage certificate and in the 1861 census record, Joe Mayall identifies himself as an artist,[13] as his father had in the 1851 and 1861 census.[14] When visiting Hawarden Castle to photograph the prime minister, William E. Gladstone, Joe Mayall showed his hostess, Catharine Gladstone, some of the photographs he had already taken for Artists at Home. As she admired these, she remarked that “photography was making immense strides, and said how interesting it was to see the progress of the art.” In this way, Mayall uses her good name to legitimize photography as an art form. Mayall also bemoans the lack of true likenesses of Gladstone, claiming he had never seen an oil painting that "satisfied [his] eye or which thoroughly represents the man.” While he allows that many photographs of Gladstone are similarly inadequate—“I have seen a tremendous lot of caricatures of Mr. Gladstone in the shape of photographs (I hope that mine will not be included) which are downright false and repulsive”—he also claims that the only image he had ever seen that captured the “delicacy and refinement” of Gladstone’s countenance was a photograph.[15] By setting up a direct comparison between photography and painting, Mayall not only suggests that they can be put in the same category, but that a photograph can be superior.

In 1883, Joe Mayall moved to London and established his own business, Park Lane Studio, at 548 Oxford Street, near the Marble Arch.[16] Two years earlier, in the 1881 census for Brighton, Joe Mayall had identified himself as neither an artist nor a photographer but an accounts clerk, which may suggest that his career was not moving forward; this could be one reason for the Mayalls’s move to London in 1883. Another may have been the commission from Sampson Low for Artists at Home, a major undertaking that required him to be in London, where most of the artists lived. The studio portraits in Artists at Home were among the most significant of Mayall’s career. Although only twenty-five of his photographs were published as photogravures, Mayall produced forty-eight portraits of the most prominent artists of his day, in addition to the one that he considered his crowning achievement, the portrait of Gladstone in his library at Hawarden Castle. Mayall’s reminiscences of his encounter with the prime minister, published in 1888 as “The Whole-hearted Homage of a Hero-Worshipper,” include a veritable self-portrait—an image of himself as an educated gentleman of refined tastes, especially fond of music and literature. He expresses a disdain for royalty, claiming to prefer those who, like Gladstone, had legitimately earned their power and prestige.[17]

 In 1890, Mayall moved the Park Lane Studio from Oxford Street to 209 High Road, Kilburn, where he and his family lived at 67 Gascony Avenue. By the turn of the century, the Mayall family, including Amy’s two children, had moved to 10 Rye Hill Park, Camberwell, in south London.[18] Joseph Parkin Mayall died there in 1922, aged eighty-three.[19] Other biographies have placed Mayall’s death in 1906, presumably confusing him with another Joseph Mayall, an agricultural worker.[20] In fact, Joe P. and Ann Mayall were alive and well at the time of the 1911 census, when they were occupying rooms at 109 Underhill Road, East Dulwich.[21]

While J. P. Mayall holds the copyright for all the images in Artists at Home, fifteen of the twenty-five published photographs were taken by his assistant, Frank Henry Dudman (1854-1918). Apart from his involvement with that project, very little is known about Dudman. He was born circa 1854 in Brighton,[22] where he lived with his mother, Eliza, and at least two older brothers; there is no record of Frank Dudman’s father. Sometime after 1871, he moved to London.[23] He married Emily Spencer in 1877 in Kensington, and together they raised a family of four sons and two daughters.[24] In 1881, the Dudmans were living at 4 William Terrace in Hammersmith. At the time he took the photographs in Artists at Home, Dudman was around twenty-eight years old, with two young sons.[25]

Sometime before 1892, Dudman was appointed branch manager for a branch of Hellis and Sons, a London photography studio at 160 High Street in Camden Town. In 1892 the proprietor, Robert Hellis, accused him of embezzling eighteen shillings (the equivalent of around seventy-five pounds in 2016). He was arrested on October 5, and although he confessed to the charges and offered to pay back the money, he was sentenced to six months of hard labor.[26] Frank Dudman died in 1918 in Eastbourne.[27]

                                                                                                              Karuna Srikureja

[1] “Joe Parkin Meal,” Civil Registration for Births, October–December 1839, Huddersfield, UK Census Online, J. J. E. Mayall, Joseph’s father, changed the family’s surname from Meal to Mayall sometime after 1841, while the family was living in the United States. See Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, s.v. ”Mayall, John Jabez Edwin,” by Larry J. Schaaf, accessed October 3, 2016.

[2] Oxford DNB, s.v. “Mayall, John Jabez Edwin.”

[3] Oxford Art Online, s. v. "Mayall, John Jabez Edwin," by Larry J. Schaaf, accessed October 11, 2016,

[4] Oxford DNB, s.v. “Mayall, John Jabez Edwin.”

[5] Oxford Art Online, s.v. “Mayall, John Jabez Edwin.”

[6] J. P. Mayall, “The Whole-hearted Homage of a Hero-Worshipper,” in The Grand Old Man, Pall Mall Gazette “Extra,” 44 (November 5, 1888):26-30.

[7] Oxford DNB, s.v. “Mayall, John Jabez Edwin.”

[8] Royal Academy of Arts Collection, “Joseph Parkin Mayall,” accessed October 3, 2016,,

[9] Dick Weindling, “A Famous Victorian Photographer,” in History of Kilburn and West Hampstead Blog, posted October 25, 2015, accessed October 3, 2016.

[10] Joan Kerr, “Joseph Parkin Mayall,” in The Dictionary of Australian Artists: Painters, Sketchers, Photographers and Engravers to 1870 (Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press, 1992), 522. 

[11] “Extraordinary Fatality,” Australia and New Zealand Gazette, June 5, 1876, 14. 

[12] Photo London, s.v. “Mayall, Joseph Parkin,” accessed October 3, 2016,

[13] Royal Academy, s.v. “Joseph Parkin Mayall.”

[14] Otherwise, J. P. Mayall calls himself a photographer. See, for example, “Joe P Mayall,” London 1901 Census record, UK Census Online,; and “Joe P Mayall,” London 1911 Census record, UK Census Online,

[15] Mayall, “The Whole-hearted Homage of a Hero-Worshipper,” pp. 27 and 30.

[16] Royal Academy, s.v. “Joseph Parkin Mayall.”

[17] Mayall, “The Whole-hearted Homage of a Hero-Worshipper,” pp. 26 and 28.

[18] Weindling, History of Kilburn.

[19] “Joe P Mayall,” Civil Registration for Deaths, April–June 1922, Camberwell, UK Census Online,

[20] See, for example, Royal Academy, s.v. “Joseph Parkin Mayall”; and Photo London, s.v. “Mayall, Joseph Parkin.”

[21] Weindling, History of Kilburn.

[22] “Frank Dudman,” Brighton 1861 Census record, UK Census Online,

[24] London, Kensington, Marriage Record for Frank Dudman and Emily Spencer, January­­–March 1877, Kensington, UK Census Online,; Photo London, s.v. “Dudman, Frank Henry,” accessed October 3, 2016,

[25] “Frank Dudman,” London 1881 Census record, UK Census Online,; “Frank Dudman,” London 1891 Census record, UK Census Online,

[26] See “Embezzlement by a Photographer,” Photography 4 (January- December 1892): 633; Photo London, s.v. “Hellis, Robert,” accessed October 3, 2016,

[27] Royal Academy of Arts Collection, s.v. “ Frank Dudman.” 

The Photographers