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This blog is a behind the scenes look at the Roman Baths in Bath. We hope you enjoy reading our stories about life surrounding the Roman Baths.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Miss Garraway's Lantern Slides

As part of my volunteering in the collections department, I was given the opportunity to write a blog about any artefact in the Roman Baths collection. Although I was initially overwhelmed by the choice of interesting objects, I soon came across an intriguing collection of 7 lantern slides featuring the palace of Versailles. 

Lantern slides are photos printed onto glass and projected using light. They have been around for hundreds of years, and before photography was discovered they were made by hand painting an image onto glass. These slides were donated to the Roman Baths in 1989 by a Miss Garraway.

Lantern slide of La salon de guerre at Versailles

 The photos were taken by a French photographer called Adolphe Braun, who used contemporary methods to market his pictures worldwide. Some of Braun’s Versailles lantern slides were taken in an area of the estate called Le Petit Trianon, like the photo of le temple d’amour (the love monument).
Le Petit Trianon was given to Marie Antoinette in 1774 when she married Louis XVI of France. It already included a small castle surrounded by gardens that Louis XV had been developing since the 1750s.

Lantern slide of le temple d'amour

Marie Antoinette dramatically changed the gardens of the Le Petit Trianon, commissioning the architect Richard Mique to redesign them to her taste. She was responsible for the addition of the Love monument as well as The Queen’s Hamlet, a small village of 10 buildings that included a working farm and dairy. It is widely believed that the Queen would amuse herself by pretending to be a farmer here, but really the Hamlet was used for hosting guests and educating the royal children. Unfortunately, there is not a photo of the Hamlet in Miss Garraway’s collection, although I did find a Braun photo of the Hamlet online.

Miss Garraway donated lots of items to the museum in 1989, including an Egyptian mud brick, a flint arrowhead and a total of 120 glass lantern slides. On a trip to the Record Office, we found that the collection had belonged to her father, who was headmaster at St. Saviour’s school.

A Bath Chronicle article about Mr Garraway, 1st November 1947
It is still unclear why these artefacts were in his possession. It is possible that he used these items in his school to help educate children. The fact that the photographer Braun was known for using contemporary methods to market his pictures worldwide does explain how the Garraways were able to access these photos.


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