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Services: Picture Dating and Analysis

Jayne Shrimpton offers a professional service dating and interpreting photographs and artworks for family historians; local history and genealogy groups; museums and archives; art dealers and galleries; TV networks and production companies.

Jayne's formal visual training and experience of working across all artistic and photographic media, combined with her extensive fashion history knowledge, has given her a unique skillset, ideal for successfully interpreting historical images. After decades of advising family and local historians and academic researchers, she understands the importance of time and place and can explain each photograph, painting, drawing and silhouette, revealing its historical context.

Using all available evidence, and focusing closely on fashion details, Jayne establishes an accurate time frame for each picture - essential for researchers hoping to identify mystery ancestors. Also offering expert insights into mode of dress, occasion, age, social status and facial comparisons, she breathes new life into old photographs and artworks, bringing us face to face with past generations.

Hover over these three examples for demonstrations.

Some families have inherited portrait heirlooms: hand-crafted artworks from the pre- or early-photographic age. Typically unsigned and undated, accurately dating each picture helps to identify the ancestor(s) portrayed. This watercolour painting depicts a little girl wearing Regency fashions. Her knee-length frock is juvenile, but stylistically reflects adult modes, its fine white muslin material, low neckline and high waistline indicating the 1810s/early 1820s. Her ribbon trimmings and shoes are sky blue, a popular female colour in the 1800s.

A professional Victorian studio photograph, this is a carte de visite measuring 10 x 6.5cms, the favoured format of the 1800s. The father, a sailor, favours a practical fisherman’s ‘gansey’ and his daughters wear smart daywear reflecting their respective ages. Velvet- trimmed dark woollen cloth gowns were fashionable in the 1880s, these tight bodices with narrow sleeves, high collars, the ‘plastron’ front (left) and pronounced bustle projection (right) dating this scene firmly to c.1886-89.

This is an amateur snapshot taken using a personal camera, reflecting the early-mid 20th century surge in home photography. This couple, who married during WW2, wear smart civilian daywear. His lounge suit is typically loose in cut, the trouser turn-ups (disallowed under the Utility clothing scheme) suggesting a pre-war suit. Her tailored knee-length coat with wide padded shoulders and jaunty feathered hat (headwear not being rationed) represent early- mid 1940s fashions.

Jayne has worked on images from all over the world, from Australia to Argentina, Canada to India and hopes to help with all international inquiries. Three main levels of service range from basic photo dating to advanced picture analysis. Beyond this, Jayne also considers bespoke projects.

Picture inquiries are handled individually and confidentially by email, or occasionally in person. If large photograph albums or fragile pictures are involved, Jayne can visit clients or receive them at her Lewes home.

For enquiries please email: or see contact page.

Client Testimonials

"Thank you, I know exactly who is in the photo now, although it wasn't who I had presumed. A thirty-year old mystery cleared!" - Mary Burnell, New Zealand

"Many thanks for your wonderful analysis which has answered so many questions for me and helped to discover the identity of some of my ancestors." - Diane Smith, England

‘Thank you for another speedy reply. This is an interesting and detailed statement and your comments on the Swedish image are very useful to me. I am really impressed!’
- Erlend Hegdal, Norway

‘I am very pleased with both reports. You have helped to identify my 3 x great grandfather, photographed c.1880. This is awesome. Thank you, Jayne. I am very happy with your work and will contact you again with more photos.’
- Dan Burn, USA

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