Tuesday, January 11, 2011

And now for something completely different ...

I am fascinated by photographs from the early to mid 1800s. The people then didn't know what they were supposed to look like. Exact imagery hadn't been around long enough (and Hollywood hadn't been invented yet) for a mass media to inform the general population what beauty was supposed to look like. So the people just looked like what they looked like. The faces you see are incredible, often weathered into caricature by life and sorrow. The current (Winter 2011) edition of American Heritage includes a collection of photos of survivors from the Revolutionary period. It's not online yet, but presumably it will be eventually.

Not long ago I started a project of rendering portraits of Old Testament personages in watercolor, such as this picture of Jonah. I didn't get very far. The point at hand is, Jonah's face is based on U.S. vice president and senator John C. Calhoun. You can just see this guy railing at God as if he had something to say. Even if I don't pursue the project again at some time, photos from the 1800s are a great resource for the way real people looked in a time when life was a lot more real than we can remember now.

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