In February 2009, I proudly posted an image of one of my most prized possessions, an original pastel and watercolor portrait of two beautiful women, painted from a photo by Beatrice Tonnesen. The painting had been found in the archives of the now-defunct Thomas D. Murphy Calendar Co., of Red Oak, Iowa. There was a bit of mystery attached to my treasure because in almost thirty years of collecting vintage calendars, I could not remember ever having seen a published print of this duo. Did TDM really purchase this gorgeous painting, never to use it? [Click on images for larger version.]
Now, however, I have an answer of sorts, but it raises other questions. I recently found a 1919 calendar with a print of one beautiful woman – not two – and the woman is clearly the same one who appears on the right side of the original painting. Titled “Rose O’Killarney,” her solo calendar appearance matches every detail shown in the painting, right down to the green sprigs peeking out of her rose bouquet. Interestingly, since in the painting she was partially obscured on the left by her companion, the calendar illustrator had to fill in some missing areas when the two subjects were separated. But wait! Could it be that the painting was formed and painted from two separate photos, with “Rose O’Killarney” being one of them? In that case, the calendar illustrator would have had a complete photographic image of Rose with which to work.
So now, I wonder, is there a calendar print of Rose’s friend out there somewhere? Or is there a calendar somewhere that shows the two beauties reunited? Did TDM get two, or even three, calendar prints for the price of one painting? Or did they, perhaps, purchase two separate photos from Tonnesen, and then position and illustrate them together for the painting?
Included here, are images of the original painting, along with the calendar print of “Rose O’Killarney.” For more examples of curiously constructed prints with elements by Tonnesen, please see Album 12, “Tonnesen Images Make Mystery Appearances” in the Beatrice Tonnesen Catalogue.
Copyright 2014 Lois Emerson