For Photo Friday, I was unable to get these guys out of the frame for a scanning, so you're going to have to look upon my own early morning mug in order to get a gander at these 1910's/20's portraits I picked up at an estate sale in Madison about two years ago. CAUTION: THEY ARE SPOOKY SCARY (you've been warned!).
What would possess me to buy something that looks like set dressing from one of the Silent Hill video games? The price was right, and I wanted it!. What else? I was at the sale on the first day, just a regular ranch house out near Rivergate, and one wood panelled den on the second floor of a two-floor layout had an entire wall checked in similar, 1890's-1930's portraits. I've seen plenty of sales where there were one or two, curved glass, hand tinted, ancient formal photographs, but there had to be at least eight at this sale. Very wealthy family? Only one relative to pass them down to? Couldn't tell you. I saw this and another one, was instantly drawn to them, and balked at the sixty dollar price tag on each. Sighing the sigh of the downhearted estate saler, I gave up. Foiled! By penury! I didn't have any dingdang sixty dollars to lay down on something that would probably haunt my nightmares...even if I did want it. Badly.
Cue the second day and half off discounts...somehow, I managed to talk the woman running the sale into giving it to me for twenty dollars. Which, again, no sane person would probably pay, but you're dealing with a collector-of-weird-things, so that kind of goes without saying.
LOOK. AT. THE EYE DETAIL.
As I was buying the first, the sales people pointed out that there was another portrait with a little girl in it. Curious, they brought the one picture below in from another part of the sale, which was also on the chopping block for twenty dollars. Did I buy? Of course I bought. It was the other one I was interested in from the first day! All the cousins and aunts and grandparents that had walked out the door in their ornate, pre WWI frames were gone by this point in the sale, and this picture had been taken off the wall and moved to another room. Probably because it creeped someone out. But it was mine, all mine!
What's interesting to me (besides, again, the unsettling nature of the subjects' staring eyes), is how the background, a hundred years ago, would not be nearly as terror-inducing as it is now. Aging and exposure to light has no doubt changed the vibrant red and pink colors of the respective backgrounds into the shadowed, scary ones we see now. I bet in 1920, these guys didn't look nearly as...ok, no, they probably still looked a little scary. HOW 3-D DOES THIS PROCESS SEEM TO YOU? When I took pictures to close up the image, I took two or three, and in each one, the people's expressions looked a little different. Am I being overly dramatic? You judge?
Angle Two (same picture):
I also like that the little girl is almost definitely the same pale haired little Bad Seed from the first picture.
These are hanging in the photography display in the Green room (which you saw a little of in last week's Photo Friday), and it's always fun to have someone sit on the couch, which is in a tiny alcove, and look left-- the portraits aren't immediately obvious when you walk in the room, and have given more than one visitor a quick case of the heebie jeebies by seemingly "appearing" on the wall.
Am I wrong to love a spooky portrait? Then I don't wanna be right! Do you have any creepy old ephemera or photographs in your house that you almost have to turn to the wall to sleep in the same house with? What is it about this stuff that appeals to you and me, if it does?
I gotta get goin' on the sales...see you guys next week! Have a great weekend!