1884-1910 Alvan S. Harper Collection – Woman holding parasol
Whenever I see photographs – not drawings, but actual photographs – of women in roughly-Victorian dress, I can’t help look at the clear lines of their corsetry and wonder what it must have felt like to wear something that stiff, and like, not just for a costume or special occasion, but every freaking day.
This woman pulls it off beautifully though. Favourite bits: the bow at the side of her neck, her hairstyle, trying to imagine what colour her skirt was (and her top! What if it was a rad shade of AUBERGINE). And of course, wondering: who was she? What made her go into the photographer’s studio that day? Did she want a portrait to give her family? Was she hired as a model, as someone who inspired the photographer as an artist? Was she a singer or a stage performer, being immortalized for her fans?
And then, of course, I’m pretty sure that’s not a real outdoor shot, which means that someone painstakingly painted the background. So now I’m thinking about that painter, whether the photographer gave them creative freedom or micromanaged, or maybe the photographer themselves painted it, as another facet of their art…..
This is why I love history. Numbers on paper are boring as hell. But trying to feel out and understand the lives of people who went through the same people problems and people joys as we do but in different circumstances, that’s exhilarating. ❤