On this blog, I display and write mostly about the work of Beatrice Tonnesen, whose creations of photo illustration art graced America’s calendars during the early part of the twentieth century. But Tonnesen wasn’t the only one using this technique. The prints signed “L. Goddard” provide the most prominent example of photo illustration art during that same time. Because of the similarities and inevitable comparisons and, sometimes, the apparent connections between the two, I have found myself researching and collecting Goddard as well as Tonnesen.
Collectors routinely describe the L. Goddard signature as representing a collaboration between Leonora Woolfenden (1877-1955) as photographer and Rudolph Ingerle (1879-1950) as artist. But I’m not so sure that L. Goddard always involved Ingerle. Over the past several years I have questioned- on this blog and in my ebook “The Secret Source: Beatrice Tonnesen and the Calendar Art of the Golden Age of Illustration”-the extent to which Woolfenden might have acted as both photographer and illustrator and if she, at times, might have painted from the photographs of others (Tonnesen being one of them, but that’s another story).
Here’s why I began to wonder. First, Woolfenden’s maiden name was Goddard. Since her first name was Leonora, she actually was L. Goddard until she married Mr. Woolfenden in 1903. She started out at the Arthur Studio in Detroit in the 1890s. Primarily known as a photographic studio, it nonetheless turned out artwork signed Arthur, Arthur Studio and James Arthur (the owner) through at least the early 1920s. These works are often found on calendars and other advertising items, as well as prints framed for hanging. Though James Arthur died in 1912, the studio continued to operate; artwork attributed to Arthur continued to appear; and census reports and city directories continued to place Woolfenden in Detroit as an “artist” until 1930.
In addition, around 2010, I found a publisher’s blurb from a 1920s calendar print titled “Moonbeams and Moon Dreams” that states it is “From an original painting by Leonora Goddard.” It goes on to say that she “first turned her attention to art in photography and “…later developed her talent for water color and oil painting from photographic models.”
Fast forward to December, 2018. I noticed that Grapefruit Moon Gallery, one of my favorite sources of vintage art, had begun listing prints signed L. Goddard accompanied by their source photographs at auction on Ebay. I was able to obtain two sets of them. The first print, titled “The Love That Never Fails,” was a charming scene of a mother and daughter gazing adoringly at a baby in a bassinette. The matching photo was attributed to Woolfenden on the back. The second print, titled “Where Love Abides,” depicted a loving couple watching their son and daughter at play. But the accompanying source photo was attributed not to Woolfenden, but to a prominent New York-based photographer named Joel Feder! Not only that, but Grapefruit Moon Gallery also displayed a second L. Goddard/Joel Feder set that I failed to obtain, proving that “Where Love Abides” was not the only L. Goddard print derived from a photographer other than Woolfenden.
Meanwhile, Rudolph Ingerle is known to have had a career as a painter outside of his work with Woolfenden. He was primarily a landscape artist, but also did some photo illustration work using his Ingerle signature. I cannot fathom him painting from a photo by Feder and then signing Leonora Woolfenden’s maiden name to it instead of his own. But I can well imagine Woolfenden signing her maiden name to a work that she herself painted from a photo by Feder.
I don’t know the exact source of the widespread belief that L. Goddard represented a collaboration between Woolfenden and Ingerle. From what I have heard and read, a publisher’s blurb naming Woolfenden and Ingerle as the artists behind the signature was found on a calendar displaying one of the many prints of Indian maidens signed L. Goddard. Still, I do believe it’s likely that the L. Goddard signature didn’t always involve Ingerle, but was sometimes simply Woolfenden signing her maiden name to something she painted from a photograph, whether hers or someone else’s.
Accompanying this post are images of the two print/photo sets signed Feder, Woolfenden and L. Goddard and an example of a photo illustration signed R. F. Ingerle. The piece by Ingerle had to be photographed under glass. I apologize for the reflections.
© 2019 Lois Emerson