The Lafayette Studio boasts one of the oldest histories of any photographic business in the world. During its peak years, the studio photographed a succession of King Emperors/Queen Empresses, Viceroys, and Vicereines-including Viscounts Mountbatten and Chelmsford, and other leading colonial administrators and business achievers.
The studio was founded in Dublin in 1880 by James Stack Lauder, who used the professional name of James Lafayette ('late of Paris', as his own firm's publicity billed him). James was the eldest son of Edmund Lauder, a pioneering and successful photographer who had opened a daguerreotype studio in Dublin in 1853. The new business flourished, soon establishing itself as the premier portrait studio in Ireland, following commissions from the Viceroy and leading members of the Irish aristocracy.
During the 1880s the studio started amassing medals and prizes for its fine photographic work with comments such as this forthcoming from the Photographic Society of Great Britain: 'M[onsieur] Lafayette's pictures also the judges considered very beautiful, being distinguished for delicacy of treatment.'
The firm's reputation was such that in 1887 James Lafayette was invited to Windsor to photograph Queen Victoria and was granted a royal warrant as 'Her Majesty's Photographer in Dublin'. This royal warrant, which was subsequently renewed by King Edward VII and George V. conferred a great deal of prestige on him. The style and title of 'Photographer Royal', which now appeared on the studio's advertising and promotional literature, proved extremely useful in attracting new clients.
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