There are no known photographs of the Bronte Sisters but one intriguing image has yet to be explained.

The Bronte Sisters Photo

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Several years ago a photo entitled "The Bronte Sisters" was found in France and purchased to help illustrate a book on early photography.

It wasn't thought to be of any great interest until it was discovered that there were no photos of the Bronte Sisters and the present research began.

A photo on glass,1. it dates from the 1850s, and written on the back in French is “Les Sœurs Brontë.” Although Emily and Anne died in the 1840s, copies were made of their other portraits in the 1850s, one by a photographer from France.

The website explores whether this is just a staged portrayal of the Bronte Sisters, or a copy of an earlier, genuine photograph.

You can compare these ladies with images and descriptions of the Bronte Sisters and there's research on the fashions, early photography and a possible location.

Detail from an 1830s portrait of Charlotte Bronte, by her brother Branwell, shown alongside detail of 'Charlotte' in the photo. 

Branwell's 1830s portrait painting of Charlotte remained hidden from public view until 1914.

The photo dates from the 1850s and may be a copy of an 1840s daguerreotype.

The only image of Charlotte seen by the public before 1914 was this engraving (left) and portraits based upon it.

These pre-1914 illustrations all had their origins in a portrait of Charlotte (1850) by George Richmond where she has a more oval face with a longer, differently shaped nose.

If the photo is genuine then Branwell's portrait of Charlotte is far more accurate than George Richmond's.

  1. The photo is a Victorian image on glass. The correct English term for this is 'wet-plate collodion positive' but the American term 'ambrotype' is also widely used both sides of the Atlantic. So as not to confuse people, it is referred to as a 'photo on glass' throughout this website.