The BEAUTIFUL LADY In San Francisco

Sometimes not having any history for an image makes my heart ache. This is one of those times. I compare this to my post entitled The Lovely Young Girl at BAKER'S ART GALLERY except that this time I have no information. Just an image of a beautiful lady done by a very good photographer. But no information. Nothing written on the back. And the photography studio, The Johnson Studios, leads to vapor. I'm not finding anything.

Just as I long to know who the young girl was at Baker's Art Gallery, I long to know the story of this lady.

Click on image to see it larger.

If this was taken before the 1906 quake it's likely that the studio was destroyed. So, most likely the negative was destroyed. Which leads to the horrible question, did this lady survive?

She is such an elegant lady. What do the flowers represent in her hand and on the chair? I have no idea. Anyone out there have a suggestion?

And speaking of the chair...even the chair is elegant. Thank goodness she isn't leaning against one of those heavy ugly chairs with the cord hanging down.

Oh to step back in time and be hiding in the shadows of the studio as this portrait sitting took place. To hear the voices of the photographer and the woman as they worked together, laughed together, and then their final parting with the photographer telling her when the images would be ready.

The photographer had two studios. One at 1228 Fillmore Street. The other at 1028 Market Street. Were they large like Baker's Art Gallery or just small shops?

I did find two other photos online attributed to The Johnson Studios:

This image is from Bert's collection.


  1. Hi T+L - A wonderful photo indeed. Sadly, there are many such examples with no annotations around.

    The second of the two links that you provided shows a photograph from the 1028 Market Street premises dated 1921, so that particular branch did survive the earthquake.

    The first link is another wonderful portrait from 1028 Market - if only they made them like that nowadays. Although it is dated at c.1900, I would suggest that it is from the 1910s at the earliest, perhaps even later. It uses a very similar, although not necessarily identical painted backdrop to your portrait, suggesting to me that they were not too far apart, timewise.

    Thank you for sharing it.

    Regards, Brett

  2. What a great photograph and the chair - so ornate!

  3. Thanks for the close-up of the chair. Even though the lady is lovely, I'm afraid my eye was immediately drawn to the chair. Lilies are often used to symbolize purity and innocence, so I guess they would be appropriate for a portrait of a young lady.

  4. Anonymous3/20/2011

    That is an amazing photo - she is lovely, and the chair is very unusual. The focus on the chair is so sharp, you can tell the photographer was an expert :-) Jo

  5. I was thinking that lilies are often associated with death and the one sitting on the chair could be in tribute to a dear departed as another common pose in old photos is the woman standing and the man sitting.

  6. I had thought of that too. That perhaps the empty chair and lilies represented a death, but somehow she just doesn't look like a widow. Okay, I've got it. She was a temptress, a murderer. Behind her back she has her fingers crossed as she clutches the lilies.