This is an incredible christening dress! The baby looks to be a boy with a bit of a side part, but baby hair can also just do whatever it wants, so who knows, this could be a girl. Regardless, this dress, this dress! Look at the lace edging on the hem. It appears to be a lighter, outer layer, embellished with tiny horizontal tucks mid-body which lead to the lace edging, with a second, longer layer also with a deep lace hem. Often times lace was hand made or was expensive machine lace from England and/or France. The dress must be 3 1/2 feet long from the shoulder and very full. The baby looks incredibly tiny surrounded with all that dress. At first I thought it amazing that the baby held still for so long, but then I noticed something over the baby’s shoulder, and I think it’s the mother hand holding the baby’s head in place.
Mother has a lovely dress as well. Some sort of dark fabric (I’m picturing deep green), perhaps a silk taffeta for the main body and skirt, with velvet trimming on the bodice, a smart striped tie and tiny ruffled trim on the neck. Her hair is coiled into a chignon of some kind. I also believe by the wonky way she is seated that she has a bustle, suggesting the photo was made between 1882-1889.
The photographer was VerLee & Young in Holland, MI. Interesting, as I was researching the photographer I found out that the VerLee family helped settle the town of Holland in the early 19th century after emigrating from the Netherlands. Holland of course, is the name given to the western portion of the Netherlands, and often used to describe the entire country. It seems the emigrants brought their home with them when they settled the area. I’m hoping to hear back from the VerLee site curator with a possible clue about the photographer.