Wow! If I found this while plowing through a library, I’m afraid my first reaction would be to laugh or exclaim in a loud, un-library-ish way.
Is there any accompanying text? I mean, is the image intended to be self-sufficiently edifying as is or does it extend or clarify a point made elsewhere in the magazine? Is it part of a series of “personifications”?
Don’t we have entirely too much fun with our history?!
Edje, there is an “Art Personified” in the next issue, very similar style with slightly more fabric strategically placed. But neither seems to illustrate any text in the magazine.
In an odd way, I think it speaks very well for the people of that era, that this could be presented and presumably seen as artistic classicism, with total innocence. Still, weren’t 12-year-old boys always 12-year-old boys?
Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 17, 2008 @ 5:03 pm
Ardis, when we chatted on Tuesday about stirring things up a bit at your blog, I had no idea you had nudity in mind. I’ve come to grips with our JI blog not being considered “mainstream and orthodox,” but now I’m thinking the original JI might not have passed recents tests of orthodoxy either.
Justin, it says “Copyrighted 1893 by A. Zeese & Co.” Like most of the illustrations in the JI, this must have been purchased as general stock from a supply house — no fears that it was some Beehive girl from Fillmore lured into the dens of the Deseret News photography studio for this one.
Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 17, 2008 @ 7:56 pm
A couple weeks ago I was volunteering with my wife to clean the SLC temple. While we were loading things down into the basement, we found a corner that was filled with old paintings and other various artistic items. Then, to our amazement, after we wiped off all the dust (I bet no one had touched them in years), we realized that they were all paintings and illustrations like the one you present here.
Jami, yes, we were discussing a Madonna and Child in a post Kristine wrote at BCC. Supposedly representatives of the Museum went through all church properties a few years ago cataloguing all artworks on display in public rooms, hanging in offices, and packed in storerooms. I’ll ask my contacts how thorough the sweep was.
Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 18, 2008 @ 7:16 am
Thanks for the info on the photographer. The thing that struck me about the photo was actually not the *ahem*, but the ethnicity of the subject.
I could be entirely wrong, but she looks Polish to me. That gave me some pause yesterday because I didn’t know if there were any Poles in Utah at the time, so I dismissed the thought.
Knowing that the photographer was based in Chicago, I just looked up whether Polish emigration to Chicago was underway by 1893 and the answer is yes. It started in the early 1830s. By the 1890s some Polish Americans were among the uppercrust of Chicago society. A couple of recognizable women of Polish ancestry that you might be familiar with are Marie Curie and Martha Stewart, both of whom share those prominent cheekbones with the subject of this photograph.
Following Mark IV’s link, A. Zeese comes up just a handful of times in the Library of Congress online catalog and it is always for ethnic photographs. (Plus one fur trader.)
Another trail to follow in identifying this portrait: 1893 Chicago was the site of the World’s Columbian Exposition, also known as the World’s Fair. It would have been a time for a great volume of artistic output and at that point there would have been gathered to Chicago from many of the nations of the earth. A. Zeese may only have been in Chicago for the Eexposition.
I did some research and discovered that A. Zeese appears to be Alexander Zeese, who was born in Saxony in 1827, emigrated to the U.S. in 1852, and set up an electrotype business with a partner in Chicago in 1856. The Chicago firm of A. Zeese & Co., formed in 1861, handled electrotyping, process engraving, and map and relief-line work. The firm exhibited process engravings and electrotypes at the Columbian Exposition. Zeese was killed by a fall in Chicago in Jan. 1899.
This photograph suggests that we have become more puritanical than our forebears (or at least than the editorial staff of the Instructor in 1906. (Wasn’t President McKay the President of the Deseret Sunday School Union back then?)
On that topic, can’t we find some photographs of BYU coeds wearing strapless or spaghetti-strap gowns back in the 1950s? Or is my memory playing tricks on me?
Personally, I believe that at least some of the 12 year boys of 1906 once they got wind of this illustration, sought out copies of the JI not only for their own edification but also for their friends. Those precocious bounders were also likely to be out back behind the barn experimenting with tobacco and demon rum. A few years later, when they knew that a mission call might arrive any day, called themselves to repentance and later went forth to serve. By the time they returned they were well and truly converted and would blush when an old friend reminded them of those ‘good old days’. After all, men are such dogs!
As to the paleness of the bared breast, this could also be attributed to the fact that it might discreetly be covered in a fine fabric such as silk or ‘chiffon’.
Comment by The old dog, Velikiye Kniaz — June 17, 2009 @ 10:32 am
I doubt anyone noticed — after all, they “just read it for the articles.”
I wonder if during that time period art students at BYU were allowed to use nude models to learn their craft? Or if they still had to wait until they were married to learn what the muscles underneath the clothing looks like.