Amazing photographs showing the works of the British tattoo artist in the Victorian era (10 photos)


Sutherland Macdonald in the history of tattoo art.

Sutherland Macdonald is considered as the first professional tattoo artist of the Victorian era in England. After James Cook sailed to the southern part of the Pacific ocean, where his crew immersed in the exotic Polinesian culture, tattoos began to leak into the society, becoming popular for a period of many years. Most propably Macdonald had made himself a first tattoo in the 1880s in the British Army.
Being already an artist, by 1889 Macdonald worked in his own tattoo shop by the Turkish Hammam in London. In the Victorian England a profession of a tattooist was unheard of. There was even invented a new word “tattooist”, a combination of words “tattoo” and “artist”. Macdonald remained the only specialist in this category for four years. “There was no any other professional tattoo studio in Great Britain at those times,” explains Matt Lodder, a lecturer at the University of Essex.

Working with the celebrities and aristocrats, in the beginning Macdonald used a hand tools, but afterwards he created an electrical machine, which he also patented in 1894. They say that he was making tattoos for the future generations of the queen Victoria, for the kings of Norway and Denmark. Tattoos started to become more and more popular among the European elite, after the British king Edward VII and his son were tattooed in Jerusalem and Japan respectively.

Sutherland Macdonald opened his own tattoo studio in 1894 and had become the first professional tattooist in Great Britain.

Macdonald is also regarded to have initiated the use of the blue and green colours. As a pioneer of the tattoo art, he managed to raise its level to a respected profession.