8/10/2008

Photo of the week - Three generations, 1917

Date: October 17, 1917
Photographer: Atelier Promenade
Sitter: Unknown
Provenience: Denmark, probably Copenhagen

This is an unusual photo since it depicts three generations of women - family photos were quite common, but just having three women sit together for a portrait was far less common. It is the first one I myself have come across in my haunting for old photos.

We do not know have the names of the sitters so we can not tell for sure that it daughter, mother and grand-mother, but they all look alike and the ages would suit such an assumption. The grand-mother is sitting in the middle of the picture, with one hand resting on a thin book laying on a table - not the most usual of attribute and one can not help but wonder what the book it is. No clue is given, except that it does not look like a novel. The mother is standing on her right side in the usual pose for adult on photos of the time. The youngest, the daughter, is sitting on the arm of the arm-chair in a way that clearly indicates a close familiarity between the two sitting down.

There is a rubber stamp on the back of the card that says "17. OKT. 1917" which of course should be read as October 17, 1917. There is really no reason to assume that this picture was not taken at the time - the clothes confirm the approximate year, and there is really no need to put a date on a photo that is not the correct one (or at least assumed to be the right one). The dresses and hair-dos of the two older ladies are quite conservative and shows none of the showiness that finer clothes of this time could possess. There is no reason to presume that these clothes were not their best or even that they necessarily were that poor, just that they were women who did not follow the latest fashion-trends but chose a more sombre look.

The girl is more typical of the age. She is not grown-up, though you can not see the exact length of her skirt in contrast to her legs (skirts that were long were just for adults, still) you can see the gigantic bow at the back of her head - she was clearly considered too young to have her hair up and big bows were the thing then. Her dress has another big bow and the blouse has a sailor-collar, two other common traits of the dresses of girls in the 1910's.

It is a photo that raises a lot of questions and thoughts - but it is also very sweet.

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