Back in December of 2008, we reported that Chicagoan Jane Berghauer (1916-1994) had been identified as the blond toddler in images by Beatrice Tonnesen circa 1917-1920. Jane had a younger brother, Vern (1920-2004), who was also known to have modeled and, since then, I’ve been keeping an eye out for evidence that Vern had modeled for Tonnesen.
Now, I think I’ve finally found Vern in a pair of images depicting the “boy and his dog” theme so popular in the early part of the last century. I can’t be absolutely sure of either the model’s identity or the identity of the photographer behind the images, but there is strong evidence that Tonnesen was the photographer and Vern Berghauer was the model.
The wavy-haired collie in both images has appeared in at least one confirmed mid-twenties photo by Tonnesen and she is known to have produced other “boy and dog” themed photos. Additionally, the fabric covering the seat in one of the two prints looks to be one she used in other images. And both images can be linked through the identical clothing worn by the boys.
As to the identity of the boy model: Checkout this photo of Vern Berghauer, age 9, kindly provided to me by Vern’s family friends Brenda and Rudy Arreola. What do you think?
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Copyright 2017 Lois Emerson
Oshkosh Public Museum in Wisconsin is holding an exhibit titled “Geniuses of Oshkosh” July 2 – October 16, 2016. Beatrice Tonnesen is one of four homegrown geniuses who are featured. On display are original black and white photos by Tonnesen from the museum’s collection, paired with the colorful prints, calendars and advertising fans they became. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 AM – 4:30 PM and Sunday 1PM – 4:30 PM. The museum is closed on Mondays and all major holidays.
Copyright 2016 Lois Emerson
It has taken me awhile to get to the point where I can write about this. On Saturday, October 24, 2015 we lost an incredibly brilliant and kind man, my friend Sumner Nelson, to lung cancer.
I first encountered Sumner in 2007 when I phoned him to ask about some photos he had posted online. The photos were of his great-aunt, Beatrice Tonnesen, and it happened that I was researching her life and work. Sumner was hosting several blogs at the time and he offered to host one more-about Beatrice and the popular, but seldom attributed, artwork she created in Chicago between 1896 and 1930.
So, for almost eight years, we collaborated to bring Beatrice’s accomplishments to light. In a tweet last April, he characteristically understated his role as “Sumner’s little art/web participation.” It’s a lot more than that.
Not only did he make the blog itself happen, he constantly tweaked the formats and slideshows, and restored the sometimes tattered images I sent him. Later, when we had enough material for a book, he and his wife, Martha, flew to Germany, where Terry and I were living, and scanned and photographed our collection. Then Sumner learned e-book formatting and published the book himself!
Sumner was never just a participant. He was an enabler of good things. He made things happen. I’m so lucky to have known him and shared eight years of this endeavor with him. Thanks for everything, Sumner. I’m forever grateful.
Back in September of 2014, we posted a picture of “Finishing Touches”, circa 1900, a 7×9 inch print by the Tonnesen Sisters given free by Johnson & Johnson with every purchase of their baby powder. Now, thanks to site visitor Ginger Cannon, we have an example of one of the ways in which Johnson & Johnson marketed their baby powder promotion. Inside her great-grandmother’s bible, Ginger found a small (about 4×5), tattered card with a miniature version of the print on the front and information about the free offer of the full size print on the back.
Ginger theorizes that her great-grandmother, Minnie Mae Willoughby Elder, had kept the card as a cherished remembrance of her sister, Jessie Willoughby, who died while a teenager. The young Jessie had signed her name to the back of the card, probably admiring it as she identified with the theme of the print in which a smiling young girl emulates her mother at her vanity table.
Front and back images of the trade card are shown below. Our original post about the full-size “Finishing Touches” can be seen here.
Copyright 2015 Lois Emerson
Last year, I purchased what I thought was a framed black and white print,copyright 1900 by the Tonnesen Sisters. I was especially interested in it because it had an intriguing handwritten note attached to the backing. The note said, “One of Mrs Jennings pictures of Sch’dy. Edna Lein’s (Lewis?) mother. Erie Pa.” Since I have had some success locating Beatrice Tonnesen’s original photos through the descendants of her models, I was interested in the possible clues offered in the note. The child model in the photo appears to be Alice Gudgeon (b. 1894), who was featured in a pictorial in the Chicago Tribune in 1900. So I scoured Ancestry.com and other sources for someone named Mrs. Jennings, Edna Lein or Edna Lewis, or any reference to Erie, PA in Alice’s life. But, alas, I found nothing. I also have no idea what “Sch’dy” might mean.
Then, recently, it occurred to me that the print itself might carry some information that I couldn’t see while it was in its frame. So I took it apart and discovered first that it is a photo, not a print, and second, it is titled “Hungry Friends #27” on the back in what appears to be the handwriting of Beatrice Tonnesen herself! This is the third Tonnesen Sisters era photo that I have found. The other two were copyrighted in 1901 and bear the numbers “93” and “114”, a sequence that suggests a chronological numbering system similar to the T-numbers seen on Tonnesen’s later solo works. (You can see the 1901 images and compare the handwriting on them, here.)
The accompanying slideshow displays the photo titled “Hungry Friends,” the handwritten title and number and the note attached to the backing. I’m hoping someone out there will recognize the reference to Mrs. Jennings, the daughter named Edna and Erie PA, or even the meaning of “Sch’dy.” (Note: The photo is attached to a mat so that it does not lie flat on the scanner. This causes the scan to appear a bit blurry.)
Copyright 2015 Lois Emerson
Site visitor Ron Grassmann took one look at the little girl in our post of December 3, and was immediately reminded of a child in a print on a calendar in his own collection. Grassmann, who with his wife, Cora, edits Fox Tales
, the newsletter of the vintage art collectors of the RA Fox Society
, located the calendar and,very kindly, sent a scan to us for inclusion here on our blog. The print, titled “Chums” on the 1926 calendar, is signed Beatrice Tonnesen and was copyrighted by the Calumet Baking Powder Co.
The name “Tonneson” appears on the mat below the print, evidently added, but not proof-read, by the publisher. Thanks to Ron Grassmann for sharing this charming find with us!
[Click on the image for a larger size.]
Copyright 2015 Lois Emerson