Vintage postcard offers a story from the past

A vintage postcard found on Pinterest and some time spent painting this young girl made me think of a story she might have to tell. As I paint, I let my imagination roam wherever it might want to go...

Postcards have a long history because they were a way to send snapshots of people and places. Towards the end of the 19th century, postcard use in Europe was quite common.

I have always loved looking through vintage photographs even if they are of strangers. I examine their pose, and especially their eyes. Some look so sad, many have quite a serious look. I suppose life was much harder then, and faces showed many concerns and worries the subject in the photograph  might have had.

As I painted this young girl, her eyes wanted to tell a story. What is it?

vintage postcard girl portrait

"Lottie".  Mixed media on 12 x 18 watercolour paper.

Lottie's story

Lottie is quietly sitting for her portrait. Born of an aristocratic family in Paris, she is wearing the same dress she wore for the New Year's Eve ball as Parisians said goodbye to the old century and welcomed the new 20th century.

Short for Charlotte, Lottie as everyone calls her, is wise beyond her twelve years.  

Lottie, being an only child, often sits quietly while her parents mingle with officers and politicians and other socialites. The glittering affairs hosted by her wealthy parents are the highlights of the season in Paris.

Adult conversations around Lottie are rife with talk of the novelist Émile Zola and his prosecution for libel and then his pardon. Lottie doesn't know what libel means, but she does know that this is all part of a bigger issue regarding spying and something called L'affaire Dreyfus, and that, to her, is very intriguing.  I mean, spies in France? and here in Paris?  perhaps even among the guests tonight...how absolutely exciting!

As she snoops on other conversations, she hears the American Chargé D'affaires openly discuss the conflict between Spain and the USA. Lottie listens in as he talks of a land far away called Cuba and the signing of a peace treaty.

So much political talk around her is making her head spin!

And so here she is, quietly sitting, listening and absorbing all the gossip around her.

Not my first vintage portrait

I do love vintage images as they feed my imagination!

I have painted from vintage photos in the past.  In "What are you thinking?", I wrote about being transported to another place and time.

Today's post is perhaps the beginning of a new series I hope to paint in a facebook art group called Series 52.  Last week, I posted a charcoal and pastel sketch, but I wasn't sure this would be my series.  I  knew I had to find a subject and a medium that got my heart racing.  

Vintage portraits will do just fine. 

2 Responses

  • A beautiful piece Louise, both visually and literally. I am sure you have a book in you which we would love to read one day, what an imagination!

    • No book for me. At least not while I am able to paint or sketch…blogging satisfies the need to write for the time being. Thanks Sally for stopping by!

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