Luxury Design, Past & Present
A silver gelatin print of J class racing through Cowes roads. Cambria leads Shamrock and Candida. Signed Kirk of Cowes to the right hand side. Circa 1920
Taken from Wikipedia.
William Umpleby Kirk (1843 - 1928) was a pioneer photographer of the late Victorian period. He was born in Hull and grew up in nearby Market Weighton where, in the early 1870s, he set up his first photographic studio. Examples of his work from that period have survived and are collected. In 1881 Kirk moved his family and his business to Cowes, Isle of Wight. Cowes at that time was the international centre of yachting, the sport of royalty, the rich and the privileged. At Cowes yachts were raced, bought, sold and shown off. The rich and the titled came to Cowes to meet each other, to play and to be seen. Kirk photographed the boats and their owners afloat and ashore. He specialised in marine photographs, in portraiture e.g a copy of Kirk's photograph of The Marquis of Ormonde is held in the British National Archives at Kew. He photographed groups at house parties, tutor groups and sports teams of Naval Cadets at Osborne Naval College. His photographs of the sumptuous interiors of large yachts remain to record that era.
Kirk's reputation grew when he photographed Queen Victoria's yacht HMY Alberta at a speed of 10 knots entering Cowes Harbour; this is said to be one of the first British photographs of a vessel in motion. and to have earned him the Royal Warrant. Photographs by Kirk of the yachts Bonaand Ailsa, for example, were sold by auction at Christie's, New York and his work is sought by collectors.
A collection of Kirk's work is held by the Isle of Wight County Council and is reviewed by Ian Dear. An extensive, but as yet uncatalogued collection of Kirk's original 8" x 10" glass plates is held by the Gallery, Classic Boat Museum, East Cowes.