Friday, April 6, 2018

Sepia Saturday: Two Paintings


Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.



This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt features a man at the piano. On the wall is a painting that bears a slight similarity to one that once hung above the fireplace at my grandparents’ home.
 
Reverse Glass Painting belonging to Mary Sudie Rucker https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Me and baby sister 1959
Too bad the picture isn’t in color. Then one could appreciate the varied shades of the teal of the water next to the olive green of the grass. The mother of pearl accents in the houses look like the lights are on. And no wonder - after all, it appears either a storm or night is approaching. All in all, it is a very moody painting - moody in a good way.

This is one of two paintings my grandmother inherited from her mother Mary Sudie Rucker. The other is this smaller square one. 

Reverse Glass Painting belonging to Mary Sudie Rucker https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Square reverse glass painting
The color is still good and hints at the milky tones of its rectangular sister.

In my young mind, the two pictures were part of a single thought, with the mill and church being at the other end of the stream separating the houses in the other picture. I could sit in Grandma’s living room and stare at these paintings for the longest time creating little stories. Often I imagined arriving by rowboat to visit someone in one of the houses. Sometimes I imagined climbing out of the second story window of the mill and balancing myself on that wooden structure leading to the church. (What is THAT? Is it a chase? A fence?)

Eventually the pictures went to my mother and finally to me. I wanted to display the longer one, but I noticed the painting was damaged. The paint was flaking off.

This painting dates to the early 1900s when the ancient technique of reverse glass painting was still quite popular; adding touches of mother of pearl was too. Artists painted with acrylics and oils on the back of the glass and then turned it over. We view the image through the glass. Pastoral scenes like the ones here were probably easier to create than portraits since the artist was essentially painting backwards.

I looked for an artist who could repair the painting or at least prevent further damage, but no one would take the job on. So the long painting has been donated to a charity thrift store; maybe the frame will be useful to someone. I still have the smaller one, but it too is showing signs of paint ready to flake away.

Reverse Glass Painting belonging to Mary Sudie Rucker https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Paint is pulling away from the glass.
I wonder how much longer this one will last.

Please visit Sepia Saturday for more stories of pianos, paintings, and curly-headed men.

Wendy
© 2018, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

17 comments:

  1. First time I am seeing pastoral scenes reverse painted on glass. My grandmother, who learned then taught Early American tole painting, used this technique during the 1950s-60s to reverse paint small a still life in a pane of glass above a framed mirror. My siblings and I each have one of these hanging in our homes. I'd suggest contacting a folk art museum to see if your second painting can be repaired. A shame to lose them both.

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    1. Hmm, I wonder if there is one near by. Thanks for the suggestion.

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  2. You have a lot better imagination than I have. I never would have thought of making up stories to go with the paintings.

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    1. Ha ha - I doubt my stories had much substance.

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  3. It's funny the memories we hold on to from our childhood and our grandparents' house. My vivid memory is lying in front of the old radio (which is now in my home) and coloring in a Babes In Toyland coloring book. I can't remember what I had for dinner last night but I can remember a specific coloring book from more than 50 years ago.

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    1. Tell me! I have clear memories of a friend’s paper dolls but she has no clue what I am talking about.

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  4. Proof that art is good for the imagination! How fun that your stories connected the two paintings.

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  5. Lovely interpretation. Great that you noticed that painting.

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    1. I was on the verge of rehashing a previous post.

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  6. A great spin on the theme photo. My grandparents had prints/paintings too that I also invented stories about. That sentimental mixture of dark/sunny was a popular quality for family home decor in earlier times. It's a shame that yours have deteriorated but perhaps its time for you to create a new 20/21st century family art heritage. How about a painting of those big-eyed French children? Dogs playing poker? Howling wolves on black velvet?

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    1. Property Brothers, your future is safe!

      I doubt you’ll be called on for a show on HGTV if you are promoting gambling dogs and howling wolves. Oh my. You are so funny!

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  7. I could see using the reverse glass procedure to create a sort of 3-dimensional effect by painting both on canvas and on the back of the glass going over the canvas. Funny about making up stories. I had a really neat poster of The Old Woman in a Shoe in my bedroom & used to envision how she and all those children lived in that big boot of a shoe! And in school, when listening to the weekly radio broadcast of symphony music, we were charged with creating a picture (using paint, crayons, or chalk) to show what we thought the music was about.

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    1. See, I’m not the only crazy one!

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  8. Love that you mentioned (in a comment) paper dolls. That entire genre' had slipped my mind, and now I can remember cutting them out, folding tabs of different clothes on them, making stand-up tabs for them. The days before Barbie and Ken! Yes, children do live in a wonderful world of make-believe, just as your paintings triggered for you! I do hope you can get your painting repaired somehow.

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