Best of friends: Emma PITT and Liz O’MEAGHER 1866

The verso inscription on this carte-de-visite – “I say Captain Mackie is not to show his face in Nelson without you Liz O’Meagher” – signed by Emma Pitt, dated 6th June 1866, has created differences in perception as to the identity of the young woman in the photograph, first by the seller (DSFB) on the one hand, and second by the purchaser (KLW NFC Imprint) on the other. Is it a photograph of Emma Pitt’s addressee “you Liz O’Meagher”, or does it represent the sender Emma Pitt herself? The cdv as a multimodal message is quite complex in tenor and text. Emma’s single sentence is a powerful theatrical gesture. She uses the deictic “you” as a cataphoric pointer forward to the name “Liz O’Meagher” without reference to the photograph itself or to the name of the woman it portrays. “This is you” or “this is me” are absent pointers which could identify the subject of the photograph. Liz O’Meagher is clearly intended as the receiver, the addressee, the “you” in script, in textual form on the verso of the cdv but there is the addition of a visual signifier in the message, the photograph of a young woman on the recto of the cdv, whose identity is not altogether straightforward despite comparisons with extant photographic records taken in the same decade and into the 1880s of (potentially) both young women … More Best of friends: Emma PITT and Liz O’MEAGHER 1866