Previous Exhibitions

Who’s in the Picture?

Photographs by Alfreð D. Jónsson: can you identify anyone?

In the early days, photography was largely the preserve of professionals. One of the many portrait photographers in Reykjavík in the first half of the 20th century was Alfreð D. Jónsson, who ran a studio from 1931 to 1935 at Klapparstígur 37, and then at Laugavegur 23 from 1935 to 1952.

Alfreð’s archive of negatives was presented some years ago to the Icelandic Museum of Photography at the National Museum of Iceland. Very little of it had been catalogued. The photographs in this exhibition are all from Alfreð’s studio. All the subjects are unidentified. If the identity of the subjects can be established, that will greatly enhance the significance of the photographs. Do you recognise any faces here? If so, please fill out one of the forms with any information you have.

From the time when photography was invented in the 19th century, portraits were the dominant form. Having one’s photograph taken was both useful and fun; people of all social classes would dress in their finest clothes to have their photograph taken in a studio. In addition to the photographic equipment – cameras and lights – the studio provided a range of props such as painted backdrops, chairs and tables, even toys for the youngest subjects. The photographer would instruct the subject how to sit or stand, and where to look. So studio photographs taken at that time were posed.