Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.
This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt features a hand-colorized photograph of a street artisan. The process of applying watercolors, pastels, or other paints and dyes to a black and white photo was very popular before the invention of color-photography. My great-grandparents certainly kept up with the trends by making sure their children sat for a special photo that then was colorized.
|Josy Davis and Orvin Davis|
This portrait of my maternal grandfather Orvin Davis and his younger sister Josy held a spot on my grandparents’ fireplace mantel for years. The picture is on a 3”x4” piece of white glass. I have been unable to determine if such glass portraits had a special name, but the hand-colorizing is obvious since I also have the corresponding sepia photo.
Portraits of my grandfather’s other sisters have found their way into my possession too. I used to imagine that my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis had organized a big day at the photography studio with her children, but it dawned on me that the children all seem to be the same age. Perhaps Walter and Mary Frances decided “Age 2” (or thereabouts) was the perfect age for a special portrait session. It also looks like the three girls are wearing the same dress.
When my sister and I cleaned out our parents’ home, another special portrait emerged from the closet.
This 16”x20” portrait of Josy looks almost like the small glass portrait but with my grandfather “photoshopped” out, to use a modern term. It appears never to have been framed.
Why was the portrait in a manila envelope rather than a frame? Why are there no similar portraits of the other children? I think I know the answer. Josy probably died shortly after this portrait was made. Maybe Mary Frances and Walter meant the large portrait to be a tribute but chose not to be reminded of such a sad time by displaying it.
|Josy and another child Kenneth share a tombstone|
at Coverstone Cemetery, Shenandoah, Virginia.
Kenneth did not live long enough for a portrait.
Please visit the colorful artisans of the blogosphere at Sepia Saturday.
© 2014, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.