Thursday, March 31, 2011
My Obsession with the Bucolic Backgrounds in Old Photographs
The pictures above were swiped from cabinetcardgallery and luminouslint but I have my own large collection of 19th century studio portrait photographs (which I was too lazy to scan). Some of the sitters are identified on the back but most of them are strangers with enigmatic expressions and fantastic whiskers and enviable posture. I haven't always treated these strangers with complete respect, if you know what I mean, but I'm very fond of them and they're not around to object.
Recently though, I've become obsessed with the artificial bucolic background scenes, especially when you see a bit of skirting board or a carpet sneaking in. I have become determined to paint such a scene on my farmhouse living room wall and photograph everyone who comes to visit in front of it. It will be a fine excuse to buy props. Boxing gloves and monocles and medicine balls and a brace of pheasants.
I went searching for information about photography studio backgrounds and thought I'd paste some snippets here.
It makes sense, of course, but it was still a surprise to realize the backdrops were painted in black and white and not color.
The painting above is by Thomas Le Clear and I found it on Luminous Lint. There's a really nice story attached which doesn't have much to do with the background but is fascinating about the implications of photography on painting.
Caswell's Background Holder is good because, "It saves a sight of trouble to the busy operator" and "There is nothing about it that is liable to get out of order."
This above is one of the few examples I could find of a surviving intact backdrop. You can buy it for about $10,000 at www.installationsantiques.com.
Tempting, but I decided to paint my own. It's a work in progress, something to fit in between deadlines, but so...much...fun.
Posted by sophie blackall