Saturday, July 6, 2013

Store Bought Ancestors

  I love it when people visit, read and comment on my blog. Getting those comments make it all worth while. I had a question yesterday .,that asked me about, my many formal oil painting portraits. I think I have done a post of them before. Being lazy these days I never took the time to go back and see. Wouldn't matter as I am not computer smart enough to re-post it anyhow. So if you have seen these before, sorry.
  The story of these portraits is a long and sorted  one. When I first grew up I collected Victorian paper prints. I loved yard longs,  De Long pre's, Currier and Ives and so forth and so on. I had walls full of them and all the way up the hall stairs. One day showing some one around ,I made a comment, that I would like to replace them all  with formal oil portraits. The next thing I knew, I had purchased my first portrait. To make room for it, down came something else. This continued for many years and today, I have only formal oil portraits all over the house.

This was my very first portrait and she is still a favorite today. She hangs in the entrance hall wall going up the stairs. She dates to the middle of the 1800's just like the house. I have chairs covered in red just like the one she is in, in the ladies parlor.

Love her lace hat. The wearing of head covering goes way back in women's history. Has to do with religion. Did not change  until the middle 1900's.No lady would be seen in public with out her head covered. 

  I was so happy when I found the first portrait. Most of them that I found, that were for sale were so expensive. Then one day, in one of my favorite St.Louis shops, there she hung. What a beauty. She was 19th century, setting in a red velvet chair, nice cap and a cameo. What more could any one want in a portrait? She was $80.00. I could hardly  stand it, I was so excited. I composed myself and asked for a better price. Yes I did! I got her for $70.00. I was so excited taking her home I almost got a speeding ticket. I talked my way out it, otherwise that would have ran the price of the painting up a bit. And the rest is pretty much history.One by one they appeared all over the house.

This lady is from the late 1800's. 19th century. She too wears a hat, part of a ladies wardrobe. 

1790. love the sleeves. Another head dress

Details of the elaborate hat 

   Every time I move, I have to think about where I can hang them all. A walk through to check out wall space is very necessary, weather I am renting or buying. When I moved to New York, I carried them all with me in my van. I did not have the money to have crates built for each one, so I made card board boxes and stacked them in the van.  When I was driving there, I got lost and ended up in Spanish Harlem. It was after mid night and here I am. lost, van full or portraits, dog and all my cloths. What a mess. I stopped a guy and said I wanted to go to, "The Hampton's,"and he said,"so do I."Wasn't that funny. Then I asked an Oriental man, yes oriental, in Spanish Harlem, and he said, "follow me." Well off we went. I told the dog, we might be murdered. Did I mention I had thousands of dollars in cash in the van as well? Well I followed the nice Oriental man for awhile and then he pointed out the window for me to go that way, I did and I made it to my new home in The Hamptons .When I moved back to St.Louis, they came with me in the van again.

Early 1900's. 20th Century.Still wearing a head dress, but much smaller.

Love her jewelry and rose. Notice hand made lace collar. Rubies?

I think             I would have fired the artist if he painted me to look like this. But, I love her rose and red coat. Besides, somebody has to love her.

   I usually play a game when collecting things. I set a price limit and try not to go over that price. My original price limit for the portraits was $500.00 I did find many in that range, but have to say, I cheated more than once.

My very mostest favorite of all. 

Love her pearls and feather. Not a hat, but still covering the head some what. I bought her in New Orleans. She cost me the most. I have a feeling she is special.

Close up of her gown.

    Sometimes you find something that just speaks to you  and you have no choice but to take it home with you. That is  how the portraits do me. When the price is out of  range,  I just have to dream about them. I wait and another, more affordable, will come along soon enough. I have not bought any for this house. Every possible spot is taken up. I guess I could trade one off, but seems like selling off a family member.

The very first gentleman to come home with me, I bought him from an old cafe in downtown St.Louis that was going out of business. The place was called Ms. Hullings, so I call him Mr. Hullings. He is middle 1800's and very handsome.

Love is collar.

   When I give tours through, My Old Historic House, the portraits are always something that some one asked about. I give the same answer every time. When I was growing up, my family had no money to have portraits painted. So when I got older and had some money, I bought me some ancestors. Thus theses are, "My Store Bought Ancestors." I know who some of them are, because they were labeled. Others I make  up names and stories, it is more fun that way.

This is Mr. Bissell. His home is  St.Louis is now a place to eat. Called the Bissell Mansion.He is by far the most handsome portrait of any man I own.

Love is hand tied tie.
One of my older portraits. She is French and from the 1700's. I bought her without a frame and in poor condition. I had her restored and found the frame. Still way below what she might have sold for. 

I call her Bonnie, from Gone With The Wind Bonnie. 
This one is marked on the back Baby Amy and 1862. One of 3 children portraits in my collection.

  My portraits are mostly American and date to the middle 1800's. I have a couple that are English and one that is French. I have two from the 1700"s and even one from the 1600's. She is the oldest thing in my house. I have her in my room, facing the bed, so I can see her daily.
   Some people like them, Others say they are spooky. Some think they are ugly and some thing they are beautiful. To me they are my family. They have been with me for a very long time. I hope they stay around for many more years to come.

One of a pair of Brothers, The frames are wonderful.

Sorry brother, I got all the good looks.

  O please come for a real tour soon. I will always leave the lights on and Sissy dog will meet you with a jump and a big kiss. Come visit the whole family.

I used to keep her in my kitchen, but space does not allow in this house. I love the fruit and the handkerchief in her hand. 

She must have been very rich with all these gold rings.


She is my oldest. English, 17th century. Painted around 1640. I have her in my room, as I love to see her each morning. I like her under dress. It seems in those days they wore these slip like dresses with coat dresses on top.

She is so sweet, but her dress is what I really was drawn to. 1860's at it's finest. These dresses were made from fine cotton, sent to America from India. This fabric was so dear, almost like silk.

General Grant???

She might be a bride. Until Queen Victoria was married in white, most brides wore black. I love her lace veil and roses. She might not be the prettiest bride so I hope she came with a big fat dairy.
She came from Chicago. She was a costly little child. I love her and  feel she was worth every penny.

Love the details of her dress, the lace, ruffles and roses.

This is Mrs. Bissell. I featured her husband earlier. He was handsome and I hope she was rich., otherwise I am confused.
Wonder who this one is??? 


Twyla and Lindsey said...

I enjoyed seeing your portraits very much! You have an outstanding collection! Thanks for the very lovely post! Twyla


Wow, what a collecton of "ancestors" dear friend! They're all fabulous, but you're the best one, lol.. I'm so happy to see you looking great! Thanks for sharing. Have a lovely rest of the weekend.

Sissysmom said...

Richard- I love your posts. Always so informative and fun. I haven't been able to read many blogs lately been so busy taking care of Mom and Dad. But I'm so glad I had time to read yours today. Only you would find an oriental, in Spanish Harlem to give you directions to the Hamptons!! LOL!! I just love that story!! I needed some cheering up today and you sure did that!!

I love all your store bought ancestors.....I think my favorite is the little girl in the blue dress with the pink roses. I just love her dress.

I'm still in the stage of buying prints for my oils as yet...but one day I hope to get a couple. But I can't decide if I was "ancestors" or oil paintings of roses.

Hope you and Sissy Dog have been busy giving lots of tours of you beautiful home...and having lots of shoppers at your antique mall.

I'll be watching for your next post! In the meantime give Sissy Dog a pat on the head from me!


Tama said...

Those are really great! I think I like Mr Bissell best :D Then either the girl in the India cotton or the aristocratic lady you bought first, in the lace cap. She looks awesome!

Susan said...

Hello Richard.....Oh, I LOVE your store bought ancestors. I do, I do. You have a fabulous collection of them, too.

They don't argue, either, like "living" family members. hee hee

You really got some beauties.

I agree with you that Mr. Bissell is the most handsome.

You have them displayed so nicely. You must need a large space for all of them, that's for sure. Great job!

I love your posts and your sense of humor, too.

That "last" living portrait is nice, too! Susan

Tree Hugger - Suzan said...

Love your portraits. I was going to ask if you have any names of these people; but you answered that. I have a lot of photos of family members in the late 1800s - the earliest being 1866, but no oils! I found a box full of late 1800 photos in the attic of my aunt outside of Knoxville, but not one of them had a name of the person or year. Then came across a picture of a bear and on the back it said -- Big Black Bear in our back yard - 1901. I was so mad!! Could care less about the big black bear --- I want to know the name of the people. Love looking at their clothes and jewelry too!!

Pearl said...

These look like high quality paintings love them. I'm curious have you named any of them? Hugs, Pearl

GinaBVictorian said...

Oh Richard, you make me laugh! Lots of funny comments you made but I like the New York story best I think! You know I love your portraits and could look at them a million times and not get tired of it! But you know what you need? I portrait of Sissy dog! Very Victorian, you know.
I'm like you and don't know how to repost either. Hmmm....oh well.
Take care!

Robin's Egg Bleu said...

Well I adore oil portraits and very much enjoyed seeing yours. My favorite is also the New Orleans portrait. The first thing I thought when I looked at it was "New Orleans"...and I'd bet my teeth she was a well kept Quadroon mistress. She's just a little too fabulous to be anyone else. I think poor Mrs. Bissell was likely a very striking woman in her day, and may have had one of those vibrant personalities that more than made up for her looks at any age.

Anonymous said...

This was a fabulous post! Thank you, thank you. I love your stories about how your acquired these wonderful paintings. The one for $70!!!! What a fantastic price. You couldn't buy the frames now for that.

My favorite is the gentleman, Mr. Hullings. But the $70 lady is so lovely.

How terrific to have their faces around you every day, like friends--or even family, as you say.

Recently I attended an estate sale, hoping to acquire an oil portrait. They had two. One was breathtaking, but her price nearly made me pass out. The other was much cheaper, but without a frame and with holes. I was afraid to take a chance and buy the damaged one. Later, someone else snapped him up.

So I still have only prints, and not enough wall space to hang even them. You are right about picking a house that can hold your collection. Never give them up. What a treasure they are!


Babs said...

Wow! You have so many beautiful portraits of your "ancestors". Loved hearing your stories about them and the trip to the Hamptons.

victorian parlor II said...

Oh Richard these paintings are exquisite! Thanks for stopping by my blog-I have missed my blogland buddies!



Curtains in My Tree said...

Hey handsome in the red shirt

I like all you family portraits ,they are fabulous I have never seen so many owed by one person

they live well in your beautiful home


Lorita Littleton said...

You have lots of adorable portraits, Richard! I can see that you really have a passion for vintage stuff. I wonder if I can visit your historic house and have a closer look at those portraits. Most importantly, I want to take a photo by your fabulous mirror, too! :)

Texas Mom said...

I think they are amazing! And very difficult to pick a favorite!! :)

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Ashley Roberts said...

Enjoyed viewing your blog. Incredible collection! Thanks for the share. Buy my house