Photo of the week - Olga

Date: 1900's
Photographer: B. Bolling
Sitter: Olga
Provenience: Vetlanda (Hvetlanda, with old spelling), Sweden.

This is a photo from the time when everybody went to the photographer, when everybody was handing out their photos to friends and family - and now you can find these pictures in the old photo-albums, not knowing anything about the person there. If you are lucky you have a name, something written down by somebody who knew who the sitter was. In this case all which is known of her is her first name: Olga - written on the front of the photo.

But more can be deducted if the photo is closely studied. The photo-studio was situated in a rural area of Sweden, and this is very likely a rural girl. Her dress is up to date, it has obviously meant quite a bit of work - and she is just as obviously not from the upper classes of the world. Her chequered blouse (you can see a hint of a dark skirt too, so it is certainly not a dress) is trimmed with lace, which makes it unlikely she was poor, but the fabric is a bit stiff and so is the lace. She is obviously dressed in fine clothes (you did that when you went to the photographer back then), but it is not the clothes of someone who could afford to buy whatever they liked - this is a time when flimsy materials were quite in vogue.

The only jewellery Olga is wearing is a brooch at the collar, it is small and rather simple - far from the daring, flowing styles of the art nouveau which were popular at this time. Her hair-do is just as simple, her hair is just pinned up in a homely fashion - still it is quite modern for the time, and looks quite beautiful that way.

After all, beauty is not just a matter of money.

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