Friday, March 29, 2013

Gothic Project Runway

I'll have to add the name of the 1920s couture person here on the left when I have the original wire photo in my hands again; no, it's not Chanel, obviously, but I've forgotten her name.  The dress looks to me rather Poiret-like.  An eerie element provided by the headless man to the side with hat on his lap.  The 'madame' here looks about to hand over the young woman in her diaphanous gown to him.  Strange visual and psychic reminder of Plate I of Hogarth's Harlot's Progress, in which the old bawd, Mother Needham, is likewise about to 'hand off' the innocent young miss, Moll Hackabout, to the invidious rake, Colonel Charteris.  In the Hogarth image, Charteris--an actual historical figure and convicted rapist--is shown discreetly masturbating as Needham sizes up the new girl.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Uses of a Lemon how to fold a lady's costume coat.  Some Wills's cigarette cards from the 1930s.  I have 19 or 20 of these slim 'household hint' cards--all issued as part of one of the many collectors' sets offered by Wills between the wars.  I find the Larkinesque lower-middle-class world depicted strangely attractive.

Considered as advertising material, this set would seem to have been directed at undereducated, would-be genteel young English housewives --a class of women for whom smoking might once have seemed illicit or outré.  The Marriage of Domesticity and Lung Cancer   And yes, break out the lemons: your husband's gonorrhea is back.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Concert Mistress

A massively damaged tintype--but one beautiful (and perhaps a bit alarming) nonetheless.  The musician seems to play--or at least hold--a violin or viola.  (Considering the odd size and upright position might it be a bass viol?)  Even given the technical ruin that is the image, the gleam coming off the bow where it hits the springs still scintillates--across a mere century and a half.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Modes of Conveyance

From the ever-malleable and expansive not-a-postcard category: two attractive (and thematically related) hand-colored 18th-c. prints from Denmark.

I must confess: not quite sure what exactly is going on in either picture.  Regarding the one with the men in black bloomers: I thought at first some important individual (i.e., the man whose head seems to rise from what looks vaguely like an orange gilded seat back) was being transported in an open carriage.  But soon realized what was being shown was actually a rather stately funeral cortège.  The all-black livery--worn even by the horses--suggests as much and the 'seat back' now reveals itself as one end of an oddly garish coffin.  (The man whose head is framed is simply someone walking on the other side of the funeral coach.)  But whose funeral?  Everyone in the procession seems a bit sly and knowing.

As for the lady about to launch herself forward with ski poles and ice-sled: well.....uhhhh.....  All I can surmise is that she's on her way to compete in the women's bobsled event at the 1744 Oslo Winter Olympics.  The Errant Coquette Individual Slalom.  Strangely, like the friend who romantically bids her adieu, she seems to be wearing very unseasonable clothing for frigid weather travel--flimsy pink chinz or gingham or something.  Several more centuries to wait, I guess, before polar fleece or Gore-tex (and aerodynamic sleds) are invented.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Speaking of. . . .

. . . . projection:   As per the legendary website query--'Lesbian or German lady?"

So fashion forward: two different floral prints (wish this were in color!), the white gloves, the anklet socks.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Anonymous Photo: A Drink from the 1950s

From Defoe's Preface to Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress, his wicked 'whore biography' of 1724:

Scenes of Crime can scarce be represented in such a Manner, but some may make a Criminal Use of them; but when Vice is painted in its Low-Priz'd Colours, 'tis not to make People in love with it, but to expose it; and if the Reader makes a wrong Use of the Figures, the Wickedness is his own.

Which is to say if you find any hint of lasciviousness in this image, it's your own mind that's putting it there.