New Discovery: Signed Tonnesen Print Contains Fox-like Elements, Vintage Doll

Picture 1 of 2

It’s always a thrill to find a signed Tonnesen image that I have never before seen! But this one is especially interesting, featuring elements that further connect Tonnesen’s work with that of her colleague R. Atkinson Fox (1870 – 1935), as well as providing a closeup view of a vintage baby doll that allowed me to confirm another print in my collection as a Tonnesen. Both prints, seen here in the accompanying slideshow, are examples of the work Tonnesen did in the last decade of her career, and they feature two beautiful child models who seem to have been among her favorites.

I have seen the child in the signed print in photos by Tonnesen that appeared as prints with copyrights dated 1921 to 1927. Always pensive, never smiling, I believe she also appears in at least one image painted by R. Atkinson Fox under his DeForest pseudonym. Fox collectors can see her in DeForest’s “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not,” [included in the Beatrice Tonnesen Catalog Album 8] in which she appears alongside a young admirer posed by fellow Tonnesen model William Redmond (1908-1992). Meanwhile, the flowery background is reminiscent of other Fox prints, notably DeForest’s “Age of Innocence” [included in the Beatrice Tonnesen Catalog Album 7] in which Tonnesen model Virginia Waller (1913-2006) holds yet another vintage doll.

The second print, titled “Guard Duty” and found unsigned on a 1930 calendar, features another child model seen in photos from the Tonnesen archives in both the Oshkosh Public Museum and the Winneconne Historical Society, with inventory numbers that date them to the mid-1920s. The doll the child is holding appears to be the same one as in the signed Tonnesen print, convincing me that this image, too, is by Tonnesen. I had believed this to be Tonnesen’s work, based not only on the presence of the Tonnesen model, but on the photographer’s posing of the sleeping child on the makeshift prop, just as Tonnesen did in her photo titled “On Guard” (owned by Oshkosh Public Museum). “On Guard” later became a painting by A. Pope, shown and titled “Safely Guarded” on a 1927 calendar print. In Pope’s work, the prop is painted over to become part of the landscape. This post and slideshow from October, 2010 contain both images.

Copyright 2014 Lois Emerson