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Untitled Painting from BT’s House – Part 1

Bryson

This painting came out of my grandparents' basement. My grandmother, for whatever undisclosed reason, seemed to put everything that was attributed to Beatrice Tonnesen down in the basement, in a dark never-go-there type of place. I think that there was some kind of ego struggle between my grandparents over the presence of Tonnesen family artifacts.

I've been walking past this painting in my parents' houses for decades since the grandparents' house was sold in the late ‘60s. Only today did I actually realize that it was somehow related to Beatrice Tonnesen. My mother had no idea about the source of the painting until, she thinks, that she saw the painting in a photograph at the Oshkosh Public Museum a couple of summers ago. At first, she thought she had seen it on the wall, in the photograph of the interior of Tonnesen's studio (shown in the previous post). But it turns out she had seen it in a photograph of the interior of Beatrice's home in Winneconne, WI. The following image, courtesy of the Oshkosh Public Museum, shows the painting.

The painting is 40 inches tall by 10 inches wide. The zoomed image (above) shows the signature of the artist, J. Ross Bryson, whose illustrations of beautiful women were, and are, very popular. Bryson (1856-1918) and his sister, Mary (1860-1935), also an artist, lived in Chicago. The presence of Bryson's work in my great aunt Beatrice's home may indicate that they were friends. It's possible that she photographed one or both of them and was given the painting in payment for her services. Or it could simply mean that she admired his work and purchased it. However, the fact that it ended up in my grandparents’ basement, and they were not art aficionados in any sense, suggests to me a close tie-in to BT herself.

After the fold is a Zoomified view.

 

An image of the painting in BT’s studio is shown in Part 2.