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Introducing the Tonnesen Models, Part 4

Commercial Models of Chicago

Commercial Models of Chicago
Picture 1 of 9

"Commercial Models of Chicago - Women and Children Who Pose for Advertising Pictures", Chicago Daily Tribune October 14, 1900. This pictorial identifies several turn-of-the-century models who appeared in Tonnesen's work. Some of the models shown here also appear in Tonnesen's own 1903 advertisement. (See 'Beatrice Tonnesen Introduced New Trend in 1890 Advertising') on this blog. Clockwise from top left, they are: Alice Hyatt, Little Edna and Julius Caesar (dog), Alice Gudgeon, Edna Clifford, Lillian Rosenhof, Gertrude Nelson, Little James, Rosalie Williamson, Alice Stuart.

Around 1896, Beatrice Tonnesen opened her photographic art studio in Chicago. She quickly established herself as a favorite portrait photographer among the city’s high society. She also introduced the use of live models in advertising, becoming, by 1900, the country’s leading supplier of photographic advertising art.

Portraits and advertising aside, her circa 1900 art work became wildly popular as home decor. It seems to have consisted largely of elaborate and beautifully produced Victorian-themed parlor prints, as well as black and white prints sold to newspapers across the country for use as gifts to readers of Sunday supplements.

In 1903, Tonnesen promoted “The Famous Tonnesen Models” in an ad shown elsewhere on this site. (See “Beatrice Tonnesen Introduced New Trend in 1890 Advertising” by Sumner under “Tonnesen Business.”) Also, in 1900, the Chicago Daily Tribune ran a pictorial indentifying the “Commercial Models of Chicago.” This pictorial appears as Image #1 in Slideshow Album #11. The images that follow it show examples of Tonnesen’s Victorian parlor scenes, featuring several models who can be seen in the 1903 Tonnesen Model ad and/or the Chicago Tribune pictorial, which also gives the models’ names.

These models can also be found in the black and white Sunday supplement prints scattered throughout Slideshow Albums 2, 5, 6 and 10.

All Content Copyright 2008 Lois Emerson