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R.A. Fox Painted his “Children’s Hour” from Photo by Tonnesen

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During the 1920’s, famed calendar artist R. Atkinson Fox (1860-1935) shared Beatrice Tonnesen’s Chicago studio. Fox is known to have painted from some of Tonnesen’s photos, and a photo found at the Winneconne (WI) Historical Society appears to be a companion to the source photo for Fox’s “The Children’s Hour”, which is signed with Fox’s pseudonym “DeForest.”

Around 1923, Tonnesen created a photo portraying a beautiful young mother reading to her two children. The scene went on to become an unsigned calendar print titled “The Morning Lesson.” “The Children’s Hour” is a variation on “The Morning Lesson” – same people, same clothing, same theme – only a different placement of the people in the room and different coloring and illustrated backgrounds. So it’s likely that both source photos were the products of the same photo shoot.

Even without seeing the Winneconne photo, it is clear that “The Children’s Hour” originated in Tonnesen’s studio. The chair and rug appear often in photos confirmed to be by Tonnesen. The accompanying slideshow features “The Children’s Hour”, in which “Mom” sits in the middle, between the children, followed by the original photo found at Winneconne, in which “Mom” sits on the left, and “The Morning Lesson,” which came from the Winneconne photo, and may or may not have been illustrated by R. Atkinson Fox. Other prints by R.A. Fox that are known to have originated as photos by Tonnesen are “The Barefoot Boy” (See Album 1 in the catalog) and “The Glory of Youth” (Use the search box on the right side of this page.)

Copyright 2014 Lois Emerson

Advertising Fans: Popular Collectibles Feature Art by Tonnesen

American 3 Color Co. Ad
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This is the second page of a 2-sided advertising sheet by the American 3 Color Co. of Chicago showcasing designs for advertising fans, cards and blotters in their 1901 product line. The first page featured pictures of sample calendars.

In the days before air conditioning became commonplace, cardboard hand fans were often the best way to stay cool on a hot day. Decidedly useful, they were attractive and informative, as well. A lot has been written about the “calendar art” of the Golden Age of Illustration.  Here on our blog, we’ve been focusing on the period roughly between 1900 and 1930, and the role Beatrice Tonnesen played.  But it struck me recently that we have been so interested in presenting the art itself, that we’ve said little about the fact that what we call “calendar art” is really so much more.  Most of the publishers of the era produced a whole line of advertising items in addition to calendars.  Many of the paintings and photographs that were printed and offered to advertisers on calendars, were also available on blotters, trade cards and, perhaps most notably, on hand fans.
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The “Other” Photo Illustrator – Tonnesen’s Contemporary, L. Goddard

 

Nora Hudson Goddard Wolfenden, aka “L Goddard”. (Click for larger version)

[Update: 12/6/2012: The portrait at right is of Leonora Woolfenden. It belonged to the late Betty Lou Salisbury, daughter of Woolfenden’s first cousin, Lucy Bate Rowe Salisbury, whose granddaughter, Elissa Ball Hamlin, found it this week among the family heirlooms. She photographed it and emailed the image to her cousin, Jeff Salisbury, who forwarded it to me. At some point, Betty Lou Salisbury added important identifying information to the back of the portrait. What she wrote further confirms that the woman who began life as Nora Hudson became Leonora Woolfenden, known both for her work at the James Arthur Studio in Detroit and as the woman behind the acclaimed illustration art pseudonym “L. Goddard.” Salisbury’s message, so helpful to today’s collectors, states: “Nora Hudson Goddard Wolfenden; Chosen one of the ten most Beautiful Women in the world – Photographic Convention- Paris 1910 (I think). James Arthur – PhotographerDetroit and ‘friend’.” Many thanks to Elissa Ball Hamlin and Jeff Salisbury for providing this image and its accompanying information!
-Ed.]

The prints signed L. Goddard are probably the best known examples of the technique of photo illustration produced during the Golden Age of Illustration, about 1900-1940. In fact, it was because I was familiar with L. Goddard’s art, reportedly a collaboration between Detroit-based photographer Leonora Woolfenden (1877 – 1955) and Chicago-based artist Rudolph Ingerle (1879 – 1950), that I first began to wonder if some works by artist R. Atkinson Fox (1860 – 1935) might have resulted from a similar collaboration with photographer Beatrice Tonnesen.

Of course, since then, we’ve learned that, not only did Fox sometimes paint from Tonnesen’s photos, Tonnesen, herself, sometimes painted from them. And so, over the years, I’ve found myself wondering to what extent the same was true of Woolfenden. An advertising blurb found on one 1920’s calendar does indicate that she sometimes painted from her photographs, but it is unclear as to which works she painted or what signature she used. Collectors have been frustrated by a lack of information about how and where she worked, as well as about her personal life. Though Rudolph Ingerle’s life and career as a Chicago- based landscape artist was well-documented, little was known about Woolfenden, except that she worked with the James Arthur Studio in Detroit for decades, becoming instrumental in its continued success following the death of James Arthur in 1912.

Awhile ago, I spied a Tonnesen model in a print by Goddard and it re-awakened my curiosity about Leonora Woolfenden. Did the model commute between Detroit and Chicago, I wondered? Did Woolfenden? So, over the past year, I’ve been trying to track Woolfenden on Ancestry.com and other online archives. To make a very long search into a (relatively) short story, here are the highlights of what I found: (Note the many variations on her first and last names which complicate matters!)

In the 1900 US Census, Lenore Goddard , born November 4, 1877, can be found living with her widowed mother, Mary Jane, age 46, and her brother Walter, age 11, in Detroit. Lenore listed her occupation as “artist.” A 1901 city directory indicates her employer was “James Arthur.” (The spelling of “Lenore” is my best guess after viewing the original record. It might also say “Lenor” or “Lenora.”)

The 1910 US Census finds Lenora married to George R. Wolfenden and living in Detroit. She lists her occupation as “artist” employed by “photographer,” and states she was born in England.
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