Here’s a mystery for you! As I recall, I found this photograph at a paper show, and the seller knew nothing about it. It is dated “1895” in pencil on the back. Here’s how I parse it.
Given that the picture is taken in the corner of a room, and the child on the right has been cut off, I thnk that this was taken by an amateur photographer. I interpret the two crayon portraits on the easels as the grandparents of this attractive brood of youngsters. “Crayon portraits” are enlarged photographs enhanced with charcoal or crayon. They were very popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s because they offered the impressive size of painted portraits with the accuracy of the photographic image — and at an accessible price point. Photographers actually made most of their money on these by selling the pictures in fancy frames.
Why the dog is included is unknown — I’d like to think he or she is an honorary grandchild! But it is amusing that the dog is seated higher than most of the children, and that he gets a lot of space in the image, while the kids are sort of squashed together, and the little boy on the right is only half a child. Note that the dog is looking directly at the photographer and is holding very still while some of the children are squirming.
I can — and have — made up stories about this photograph. Try your hand at one. If you make up a good one, I’ll publish it!