Watch those fingers: The photo has been “photoshopped” (by Henry Holiday or Joseph Swain?) already many years before I worked on it using GIMP. Holiday’s tinkering with the little finger and the thumb of his left hand might be a “Victorian craze“.
The image shows Henry Holiday and segments of one of Henry Holiday’s illustrations (cut by Joseph Swain) to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. The Segments show the Bonnetmaker and a bonnet.
The Bonnetmaker could be a little self portrait of and by Henry Holiday. However, the photo is several years older than Holiday’s illustrations to The Hunting of the Snark. Perhaps it is a portrait taken by Joseph Swain or a self portrait taken by Henry Holiday quite a few years after the Snark was published. Henry Holiday was younger when he illustrated Carroll’s Snark tragicomedy.
Henry Holiday and the Bonnetmaker have one thing in common: They are creative artists. So is Joseph Swain, who engraved that illustration. How did his face look like in 1876?
Such little self portraits have a long tradition.
In German there is term “Assistenzfigur”. That is a person positoned in the background or beside the main person or main object depicted in a painting. You may think of such a person as the static version of a “film extra” in a movie. She or he serves a a kind of helper or assistant. Sometimes one of these extras is the artist who made the painting. In German we call such an image in the image an “Assistenzselbstbildnis” or “Assistenzselbstbild” or “Selbstbildnis in Assistenz”. Perhaps the first known self-portraits in assistance where a kind of signature of the artist.
The “self-portrait in assistance” first became available since the 14th century to master builders and sculpturer, shortly after that in Italy also to fresco painters, and since the 15th and 16th century also to painters of large altar- and panel paintings; see Raupp, S. 8
Source (in German): Footnote on p. 162 in Suzanne Valadon – Identitätskonstruktion… (2001) by Valeska Doll referring to Untersuchungen zu Künstlerbildnissen und Künstlerdarstellungen in den Niederlanden im 17. Jahrhundert (1984) by Hans-Joachim Raupp.
In that matter there also are references to Raupp in Melanie Munduch: Die Selbstbildnisse Luca Giordanos (2012)
Original post: 2017-09-28. Update: 2018-10-02