• Interwar period,  Nautical,  Photographs

    Sailors in the night

    This photo was taken (at night?) on April 14, 1929. It’s a small photo, mounted on cardboard. The handwriting on the back is difficult to read, but I think these sailors’ names are Duquette and Dédé (French nickname for “André”). It’s impossible to read the text on their sailor hats, even after an enhancement of the photo. If it was, we could find out the name of the ship they sailed on. Maybe it wasn’t the intention of the photographer, but this photo has a lot of atmosphere, with the contrast between light and shadow and the seemingly deserted spot where it was taken. #8

  • Edwardian era,  Photographs

    In the conservatory

    In this large photo we see a woman posing with her two children in the conservatory. The woman holds what appears to be a (news)paper. The boys and their mother are dressed in Edwardian style clothes, so this photo most likely was taken around 1901-1910. As regularly seen in photos from this era, the children are dressed identically. The woman’s dress is simple and elegant with nice details such as the buttons. The tropical plant that they are sitting in front of – philodendron selloum or tree philodendron – has reached an impressive height and has developed long, thick aerial roots. I was speculating that maybe this woman was the…

  • Interwar period,  Photographs

    Albert’s romantic message

    On the back of this portrait the following message is written: “They say I look like a wrestler in this picture. That’s just perfect. I’m ready to wrestle with life to make you happy. I hope we will have good days… Your inseparable friend and fiance Albert” There’s no date, or the name of Albert’s fiancee. Putting a year on this photo is impossible, but I’d say it was taken in the 1930s or early 1940s. The in Paris located photo studio, Arnold (or Renée et Arnold, on the same address) was active in these years – there are dated photos online to confirm this. We will never know, but…

  • Costumes & uniforms,  Interwar period,  Mardi Gras,  Photographs

    Large group of Mardi Gras party-goers

    A favorite category in my photo collection is that of people disguised for Mardi Gras, or carnaval, as we call it here. In certain parts of our country carnaval is a big event, with parades and other festivities. I’m not a carnaval-lover myself, but do enjoy looking at old photos of people in carnaval costumes. According to the address written on the back this large photo was taken in Jean Stasstreet 16 in Brussels, and obviously it was taken in the 1920s. Each of the 28 individuals is dressed up beautifully. We see, for instance, costumes of a cowboy, commedia dell’arte characters, a marquis, bullfighter and a padre. It’s a…

  • Films,  Movie stills

    Sunday Matinee: The Lovelorn movie still

    In the silent drama The Lovelorn, made in 1927, Georgie Hastings falls in love with her sister’s new boyfriend Bill. In despair, she asks popular columnist Beatrice Fairfax (*) for advice. However, the problem seems to solve itself, as Bill turns out to be a fortune hunter, only interested in the Hastings family fortune. All ends well: Georgie and her sister Ann both choose a reliable older man as their love interest. Cast: Sally O’Neil as Georgie, Molly O’Day as Ann, Larry Kent as Bill. The back of the still: Unfortunately, a copy of The Lovelorn is not available online to watch, at least not on platforms accessible for Europe.…

  • Opera,  Performing arts,  Photographs

    Léon Gresse as Sigurd, 1889

    This photo of the opera singer Léon Gresse (°1845 – +1900) has a message on it, dedicated to someone named Fournier. It reads, translated: “To my dearest friend Fournier, my very best memories of the Opera [Opéra-National, original name of the theatre, renamed in 1852] Theatre Lyrique 1876 – 1889. Yours faithfully, Gresse. Paris, October 8 1889″ Fournier likely was an admirer or colleague, I couldn’t identify him. We see Gresse dressed in his costume of Sigurd (written by Reyer, a French opera based on the same material as Wagner’s Siegfried). The photo was taken in the Benque & C° portrait studio in Paris. Interesting information regarding Léon Gresse and…

  • Interwar period,  Religions

    Indian ascetic, 1920s

    The man on this photo could be a sadhu, a religious ascetic. He holds what appears to be his staff – one of the only few possessions that sadhus own – in his hand, but it’s not clear to me why it’s covered with cloth and doesn’t touch the floor. This photo shows a modern time holy man with his covered staff. Judging by the background, this photo probably was taken in the 1920s or 1930s. The photo studio is called Mehta Art, but the name of the location was cut off unfortunately. On Wikipedia I found some information on the name Mehta: “Mehta is an Indian surname, derived from the…