Monday, January 30, 2017

In Service: Julia Fullerton-Batten

Here is another maid-related photo shoot to add to my growing collection. This one is exquisitely done and my only complaint is that not every picture featured a maid! The photographer, Julia Fullerton-Batten, quite unusually, also provided a detailed "artist statement", which, among other things, says the following:

“In Service” concentrates on amoral episodes that took place in some of the stately homes of Britain during the Edwardian era. I was fortunate to find three stately homes in the south of England that provided eminently suitable backdrops for shooting the series. Built in the 18th Century their interior decorations closely resemble those found in grand houses in the Edwardian era. I dressed the servants in authentic Edwardian era style clothing. To heighten the class difference I went for a contrast in fashion styles and dressed some of the female employers in clothing designed by Alexander McQueen and Chanel.


  1. It would be possible to base a story around each one of these pictures!

  2. I was going to say these pictures were exquisite, but then I read the opening again and saw that they had been described as much.

    The Princess and the Butler is easily my favorite. The brat has no concept of money, intentionally breaking a very expensive vase and then threatening to tip another over. Meanwhile, the butler already has a dustpan at the ready and is steadfastly waiting for the young lady's tantrum to conclude before tidying up.

    An image like this is why it is not always necessary for me that a lady2maid story be entirely voluntary. Some characters deserve to be humbled. (Although, if the Princess was given multiple warnings from the King and Queen to stop this childish behavior, did she not chose to be excluded from the royal line of succession when she elected not to follow their orders?)

    1. The last image, with a white servant acting as wetnurse to a wealthy black woman's child, is the one that really gets my motor running.
      Given the Edwardian time period, Madame's own mother or grandmother might have been a slave wetnurse to a white child.
      And given how life can have its ups and downs,* the servant might herself be the granddaughter or great-granddaughter of Southern "aristocracy".
      Even if the employer never gives a thought to such things, the employee might burn with shame and resentment five or six times a day, thinking of how Grandmama Edith would have wept to see such a fate for her precious white posterity....

      *Given how the One Percent have succeeded in insulating themselves from risk, and how opportunities for working-class and even middle class people have vanished, those ups and downs happened more often in the 1920s than today, which ought to make all of us burn with shame for allowing it to happen.

    2. A story that was multigenerational would be very interesting, where the actions of the mother or grandmother have long-lasting repercussions for her children.

      It starts innocently enough with the widowed mother of a rough-and-tumble tomboy at the turn of the century. Much to her chagrin, the adolescent has sworn off dresses, makeup, long hair and any sort of ladylike behavior. She sends her to the academy for difficult girls, a boarding school that will refine her daughter into a proper socialite and less of a disgrace.

      After four years of instruction, the young lady reaches the age of majority and returns to make her debut in high society. She impresses all of her guests with exquisite manners, eloquent speech, a magnificent dress and feminine beauty. She is virtually unrecognizable from the rambunctious youth she had once been, though it is not entirely the result of puberty and strict discipline.

      The mother’s suspicions that something is amiss grow with each passing hour during the event. She knows her daughter well and this new and improved version is too good to be true. As it turns out, the debutante is, in fact, an imposter. Years prior, her rebellious daughter conspired to send the maid’s daughter to finishing school in her place. She elected to swap lives with someone destined to be part of the working class rather than blossom into a delicate flower for courtly gentlemen to fawn over.

      The scandal of a devious maid elevating her kin to that of an aristocratic would completely ruin the Mother's reputation and so, the truth can never come out. Ultimately, the maid’s daughter will inherit the family fortune while the Mother's illustrious line diverts onto the well-worn path of the commoners. If one of them somehow finds a way to tame the tomboy, her progeny will likely serve the descendants of those that they would have otherwise served them.

  3. These are very good aren't they?

    There are lots more as well. Just google the artists name