Thursday, January 02, 2014

Time to put Christmas away

And speaking of time, this little unframed oil painting below is 113 years old. I bring it out every Christmas and prop it up near the tree. It's my Aunt Dorothy almost a year old in 1900. I love the simplicity of the scene with the baby entranced by the lit candles of the charming Edwardian-era Christmas tree, with her presents below. Her parents were artists and this was painted by her father.

Both parents died tragically young of diphtheria while on a visit to Paris only two years later. My aunt was raised with her cousins and she eventually followed in her parents' footsteps, studying painting and illustration at The Carnegie Institute in New York. But she took a different path. The story is that one day she happened to see an artist in a ladies' store working on a mannequin which inspired her to begin her own business of repairing and refurbishing mannequins. She painted their faces, outfitted them with new wigs, and limbs if needed! Can you imagine such a business today? Store mannequins are very different now, but in the mid-1900s my enterprising aunt managed to keep 18 employees busy and the city of Baltimore well supplied with updated mannequins. Here she is with some of her "ladies".

I think she still looked a lot like that baby in the high chair mesmerized by the Christmas tree! She's been gone for many years now but she lived a long and fulfilling life and is remembered fondly by all her nieces and nephews. Time to put that baby away till next year...

 

6 comments:

dkzody said...

What a wonderful tribute! The painting is superb, and the mannequin story resonates with me as I taught visual merchandising for many years in a high school marketing program. My students and I had many a conversation about mannequins.

LostRoses said...

Thanks, dk! I love this painting as a real window into the past. Glad you enjoyed the mannequin story too, I had no idea that visual merchandising would be taught in high schools, that's pretty fascinating in itself! Even in the public library I recently retired from merchandising is an important concept. Thanks for visiting!

Barbee' said...

How interesting! And, yes, upon seeing her photograph I immediately thought she still looked much the same.

LostRoses said...

Barbee, I agree. I was surprised to see such a resemblance. When I was old enough to know her she was already in her 60s so this earlier photo was a revelation to me.

outlawgardener said...

What a sweet memory of your special aunt and a beautiful painting. I'd be tempted to keep the baby out all year.

Tamera Beardsley said...

Such a lovely story and painting my dear. Thank you for stopping by today.

xoxo
Tamera