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???