Wreathed

Woman in daisy field, Library of Congress“Woman with wreath of leaves in her hair sitting in a field of daisies,” ca. 1900, photographer unknown, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

This photo was part of a large group of “artistic photographs,” primarily by early women photographers, that was donated to the Library of Congress by Frances Benjamin Johnston. In the spring of 1900, she had used some of these images in an exhibition of work by American women photographers at the Exposition Universelle Internationale in Paris.

Ytre Eikås, Norway

Six sisters from Ytre Eikås, Jølster Commune, Norway, ca. 1930 – ca. 1935, by Olai Fauske, via Fylkesarkivet (County Archives) i Sogn go Fjordane Commons on flickr.

Of course it’s about their flowered dresses, aprons, and blouse. For a much closer look, click here and then on the flickr page image.

The sisters are Anne, Johanna, Synneve, Inga, Ragna, and Kristina. In 1936, Kristina emigrated to the U.S. (The two girls in front are unidentified.)

The photographer, Olai Fauske, worked all around the Sunnfijord district, which included Jølster. He sold his photos and postcards not only locally, but to people who had emigrated from the area to the U.S. and then wrote back to him requesting pictures of home.

His childhood friend Alfred, for instance, longed to see Erviki in all its summer glory: “When June comes I believe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to try and get a picture of Erviki, when all the hills are green and the waterfall quite big. I liked that the best. . .,” he wrote in a letter to Fauske in 1909.

notes on flickr album of Fauske’s photos

Fauske’s photo archive is now part of the County Archives of Sogn go Fjordane.

Tilba Tilba portrait

“Charlie Ferguson’s sister,” Tilba Tilba, New South Wales, ca. 1895, by William Henry Corkhill, via Trove of the National Library of Australia.

I love this formal pose in front of a vegetable garden — and it’s very typical of the photographer’s work.

“Charlie Ferguson and William (Wallaga) Arthur Mead with an unidentified man. Click to enlarge.

Corkhill was an amateur who took thousands of pictures of his prosperous dairy farming community between 1890 and 1910.

His images were rediscovered in 1975, when his daughter gave his surviving glass plate negatives to the National Library. Among the 840 that could still be printed were portraits of family and neighbors of a “special intensity and intimacy,” according to the book, Taken at Tilba.

For the natural light, Corkhill had to work outside, in gardens and farmyards. But he often posed his subjects as if they were in a studio, with small tables, chairs, and books. His backdrops were sometimes shrubs and flowers, but he also seemed satisfied with rough fences, water tanks, or the space between two farm sheds. Occasionally, the sitters look a little amused by the process, but the photographer’s approach is not ironic.

“Corkhill’s familiarity with and affection for his subjects is evident . . . and imbues his photographs with a strange combination of authority and informality. He has a rather casual approach to the backgrounds in his portraits, as if his familiarity with the scenes he records makes him impervious to some of their oddities,” according to his biography on the Library’s website.

You can click on the linked titles below to see more of his pictures, or you can browse through the online catalog here.

Woman with a dog
Woman by a cane table
Daisy Mead
Boy by a chair
Mrs. Elizabeth Kendall Bate, aged about 83
Man sitting in a garden
Two young men
Frank Stanley Griffiths
Corkhill’s wife and their children
Byrnes family
Young woman by a table
Two children
Two young men

The Sunday porch: Valdres, Norway

tonsasen-sanatorium-porch-ca-1890-by-carl-curman-valdres-norway-swedish-heritage-boardWomen on a veranda at Tonsåsen Sanatorium (the woman on the left is wearing a traditional costume similar to the one in this photo), Valdres, Norway, ca. 1890, by Carl Curman, via Swedish National Heritage Board Commons on flickr (all three photos).

tonsasen-sanatorium-ca-1890-by-carl-curman-valdres-norway-swedish-heritage-board

Tonsåsen Sanatorium was established for the treatment of tuberculosis in 1881 — the same year that the bacillus causing the disease* was identified by Robert Koch. Like similar facilities, just about the only treatment it could offer was a combination of nutritious food, rest, and plenty of fresh air. However, it also had thermal baths, and the photographer, Carl Curman, was a physician, specializing in the science of health baths (balneology).

tonsasen-sanatorium-2-ca-1890-by-carl-curman-valdres-norway-swedish-heritage-board

Even at the better sanatoriums, fifty percent of patients were dying within five years in 1916. It was only after the development of antibiotics after World War II that it was possible to treat and cure TB reliably. Tonsåsen closed in the 1960s.


*TB was proven to be communicable in 1869.