Saturday, 10 August 2013

Vintage portraits

And now for something completely different: vintage photography. I love vintage shops and thrift stores. Today I went to an adorable vintage shop called  'Het Grote Avontuur' (The Big Adventure) here in Amsterdam. It's a super cool shop with lots of stuff from earlier times. The basement walls were adorned with old pictures, postcards and geographical maps.

I bought three small portraits, they're about 6.5 x 10.3 cm (2.5 x 4.1 inches) of three different ladies. None of them are smiling, but that might have to do with the long exposure times.

The darkest picture might be the oldest one, but since the cards are not dated I'm not quite sure. The lady has dark eyes, doesn't look very tall in comparison with the cabinet on the left. She's wearing a 19th century dress with a dark front piece and cuffs. The pleats at the front of her skirt look a bit bizarre to me, as such embellishments of the time were usually at the back. She doesn't look straight into the camera and she's wearing a ring on her left hand. Was this a portrait for her husband or fiancee who was away from home a lot? I can't decipher the origins of the photograph, but the language looks German.

The second portrait is of a woman who looks younger than the first and she doesn't wear a ring on either hand. She's wearing what looks like dark velvet dress with a double row of buttons at the front. She looks friendly and has a hint of a smile on her lips. What I notice about her hair is that she has bangs, maybe the latest thing at that time?
This portrait is oval shaped and it looks like the photograph is later glued on a different card, because the shape of it doesn't quite fit. The words below the portrait are illegible.

The back however has fantastic typography. The lady is probably English, since Whitehaven is located in the county of Cumbria, England.

And the third lady is photographed by Johann Gebhardt in Thurnau, Bavaria in Germany. The edges of her portrait are faded out and she's wearing something that looks a bit Oriental to me. Her bun is not low in the neck as the first lady has, but higher up at the back of her head. Her head is turned away about 45 degrees from the photographer and she looks slightly up. That seems to be a strange pose, maybe she didn't feel comfortable when her photo was taken.
The paper is the whitest of the three and is also glued onto a card.

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