10/9/15

The FAMILY PORTRAIT + House


Sepia Saturday's theme is a Victorian family portrait. I'm sure if I really thought about it I'd find a portrait worthy of the theme. Instead, with nothing coming to mind, I'm taking the theme in a slightly different direction.

Portrait photography was generally done inside with a studio background. I'm not sure when it became popular to have the family pose in front of their home. It's a category that I jokingly call The American Dream.

Were the photographers just passing through in a wagon offering to take the family photo? Or did the photographers come out from town?

I especially enjoy the photo below because the house is so very much part of the portrait. A happy little house, eyes wide open, mouth open beckoning all to enter (or a dark hole ready to suck them in). It looks indeed to be a small house which had the family bursting at the seams; nine people in that house. Granted, we don't know how far back it went, but I'm guessing it was about as deep as it was wide. Of course it is possible that some of the relatives just showed up for the photo shoot, but we'll never know.


Click on image to see it larger.

It's a fun category to collect, but also an expensive one. That's the main reason I have collected so few. I try to generally find unusual ones that tell a story. In more than one I'm convinced the daughter in the family ran away with the photographer. At least I'm hoping they did; struck out for some adventure. Their version of running away with the circus.

In a house with nine I'm guessing every day was a bit of a circus.

28 comments:

  1. Yes, that was a big family!! Of course, all generations stayed together then, no CareHomes or Nursing Homes! Good post!

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    1. Have you ever seen the Amish homes in Lancaster County? They just keep adding on and on and on to the homes as the family gets larger.

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  2. I have some postcards of people with houses that weren't expensive. However, they generally show the people looking tiny in relation to the house--more like portraits of the house with people than portraits of people with a house in the background.

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    1. I've got some of those too. But the ones that really shine letting you see the house and the people are often quite large.

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  3. This is an interesting photo - I liked the grouping the photographer arranged. I hope they all didn't live in that small space. It would be a challenge.

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    1. They had to either be really friendly or have their own quiet corners to run to.

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  4. They have interesting expressions, not deadpan but thoughtful serious looks. I'd guess that the seated woman in black was the spinster aunt, but the younger woman has a meaningful hand on her shoulder. And I like the way the gate behind her is cut. A stout fence like that would only get made if you were keeping cows and horses off the front porch.

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    1. I actually think it might be two branches of the family. The woman in black, though she looks very old, might be married to the fella next to her. The children behind might be theirs.

      Oh how I wish there was a horse peeking over the fence…or standing on the porch.

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  5. A smiling house! Great take. Now if only the people could have been smiling as well, doggone it.

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    1. Just figure they all had indigestion.

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  6. Great photo! They certainly would have had to get on well together if they all lived in that little house, wouldn't they?

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    1. Whenever I see these types of photos I think of Lizzie Borden. Was there a Lizzie Borden in this group who was plotting but fortunately left it only at plotting?

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  7. That house is probably bigger than it looks. It's even got a second story! They probably kept so busy they weren't under each other's feet all the time. Amazing how lots of people can live in a house if that's what they've always done and always seen.

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    1. Possibly had a cold cellar too. There are a lot of stories to be told from each one of their perspectives.

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  8. The verandah looks a little crooked but I guess it's just the angle of the photograph. I do hope there was no Lizzy Borden amongst those ladies and girls!

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    1. Yes, the house had a bit of a droop here and there.

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  9. How true! My great grandmother had 16 children. She lost several too, and some within a month or two of having another. It was a hard life.

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    1. Cooking ALL day would have been the norm. Wears me out to even think of it.

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  10. I find myself trying to imagine how many bedrooms there were and which family members shared the rooms. It's probably a strange thing to think about but, hey, it's the one time in a day when everyone is in the house all at the same, all still, and all doing the same thing (other than at meals). I hope there were at least 4 bedrooms if everyone in the photo lived in the house.

    It's interesting that the three adult women are all dressed differently and that the males are all dressed similarly.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I can imagine some long winter nights pouring over the Sears catalogue by oil lamp.

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  11. The house is so simple and unadorned. Everyone is well-dressed and clean. All of the men have pocket watches. The family seems to have fared better than the house.

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    1. A very basic and functional house. Doubt it is still standing.

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  12. If they all lived in that house it would certainly have been a squeeze! Your theory, that the photographer not only took the picture but snapped up one of the ladies too, is a good one.

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    1. It's the line to the outhouse on a cold morning that would have me most bothered.

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  13. Here in Australia the humble house with a second floor just didn't catch on. Mostly they were on one level with a passage down the middle, and were extended back or sideways if more rooms were needed.

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    1. There is a house nearby that is definitely Australian in style. And that's what it we call it. One story, low to the ground, a porch going around it. Everything about it looks like something from the outback. It is surrounded by a vineyard.

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  14. Reminds me of my maternal grandparents,
    my grandparents, with six children,
    and always some relative living with them.
    A full house!!! For sure!!
    But it all seemed to work out back then.
    It was normal to have a multi-generational household.

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    1. Indeed. I've always wondered what it was like growing up with so many people under one roof. I always felt uncomfortable when my aunt and uncle would get all of their sons, daughter-in-laws, and grandchildren together. So many people. So much noise.

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