Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My great great grandfather was named Isaac. He was born in 1855 in Williamsburg, Ohio and died in 1936 at Pearl Lake, Michigan.

Sometime between 1875 and 1880, Isaac went to a photography studio, probably with a friend and had the following tintype photograph taken. Barely visible are the metal stands that held their heads still for the long exposure.

Isaac, seated.

The backdrop fascinates me. If you click on the picture it enlarges and you can see how detailed it is. It depicts a three-dimensional scene- looking into a room, up a short flight of stairs, toward a bench placed in front of a window. It would have been painted onto a cotton fabric by an artist and photography studios often had several different backdrops.

The backdrop resembles 2nd Style frescoes found in the Naples area, buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

Fresco from a villa at Boscoreale, circa 40-30 B.C., courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

I suspect the artists had access to books depicting some of the frescoes being uncovered in Pompeii during this time period.

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