Original Pastel and Watercolor from Photo by Tonnesen

Duet by Beatrice TonnesenThis pastel and watercolor original from a photo by Beatrice Tonnesen was found in the archives of the old Thomas D. Murphy Calendar Company. Traces of the photo underlying the painting can be seen upon close examination. Although it is not known who added the pastel and watercolor elements, the photographic element clearly originated with Beatrice Tonnesen. The dress worn by the dark-haired model is one that was worn by a different model in a photo in the Tonnesen archive of the Oshkosh Public Museum. Based on the dating of other photos featuring these same models, I would place this one at around 1918. I have two other pieces of original illustration art in my collection which I believe to have originated with Tonnesen photos. However, this is the only one I've ever been able to verify.

It is known that the publishing companies purchased photos from Tonnesen and other photographers and then, sometimes, had their own staff illustrators add color, detail and/or backgrounds. It is also known that the photographic studios employed staff artists who sometimes embellished their photographs before selling them to the publishing companies. In Tonnesen's case, we know that both she and her sister Clara sometimes acted as illustrator. With no signature on the painting, however, the identity of the illustrator remains a mystery.

This painting measures approximately 19 X 25 (without mat and frame). Presumably, the Murphy Company published it as a print, although I have never come across one.

All Content Copyright 2009 Lois Emerson

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