11/27/2008

Photo of the week - Lady from Vienna 1903

Date: 1903
Photographer: Carl Pietzner
Sitter: Unknown
Provenience: Vienna, Austria

(Please click on the picture to get a better view of it - Blogger does not fully appreciate the unusual form of the photo and that is why the resolution is a little bit off.)

There is no hint on the photo who the sitter is, but the photo is dated, by the photo-studio, to 1903. This is the only photo of the lady in question that I own, but according to the notes from the photo-studio, this is one photo in a set of two (and thereby giving more information than can generally be found at the back of an old photo, when someone who knew the sitter, or the object herself, has failed to make notes).

The photo is taken in Vienna, in the atelier owned by the photographer Carl Pietzner (1853-1927, he died from committing suicide, but until then he had had a very successful photographic business and on the photo you can read both K.u.K. and Kais.u.Kön. [Imperial and Royal] which is to say that he was someone the Austrian royalty went to to have their pictures taken).

The woman has curly hair pinned up in a rather simple hair-do, but that is the only simple thing about her - that and the line of her clothing, she is wearing a blouse and a skirt, clothing items that were generally simpler than the dresses of the time (though that does not seem to be the case this time, which will soon become evident). She wears quite a lot of jewelry - considering that it is day-wear she has on and this is a time when a lot of jewelry was quite uncommon, even when dressed up to go to the photographer. She has ear-rings, a medallion, a bracelet and an engagement ring - but no wedding-band.

Her skirt is simple, but not overly so. It is has extra seams and ribbons - in colour with the skirt, but still clearly visible. But what is really exquisite is her blouse. It has a high collar and sleeves that can only be described as 'special', hanging loose around the cuff that has the same fabric as the collar - both the stripes and something that looks very much to be hemstiching, a quite common way to adorn clothes at the time. But that is not all that is done to the blouse (which must have been quite expensive - though perhaps that should not be surprised since she after all was the customer at a royal photo-studio). Both the upper part of the sleeves and the front of the blouse is adorned with lace in a floral pattern. Still, this must have been an item of everyday wear, you did not attend parties (generally) in a blouse.

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