Oil on canvas.
Oil on panel.
So I found a historical photo that was too good not to share. What you see here is the grave of Mary Washington, George Washington’s mother, in my college town of Fredericksburg, VA.
It ought to look a bit strange to my college friends who remember the site. What is now known (officially, anyway) as Kenmore Park/Memorial Park was a popular walking destination for students at Mary Washington College. (This is the site of “Mary’s Rock.” And if you partied downtown and walked back to campus, chances are you walked past it.) This site is just off Washington Avenue. The Gordon Family Cemetery was behind the obelisk. (The cemetery is pictured at left here — see the low wall — as this picture is looking northwest.)
Look at how small and sparse then trees were in 1912. (They were pretty big by the 1990’s.) This is part of a group of public domain images here at Project Gutenberg. They vary in quality, but some of them are pretty neat.
Watercolour with gouache and chalk.
Crayon on paper.
Vintage Christmas cards are nuts, as anyone who’s ever gone down that particular Kafka-esque rabbit hole will tell you. If you do a simple Google image search, you can see that our supposedly dignified forebears evidently toked up a lot around the holidays, whether it was on opium or bathtub gin or cocaine-fueled Coca-Cola or sassafras or whatever.
This might be the weirdest one yet. The card below dates from 1912, and actually features a handwritten, rhyming poem –a lot of these antique holiday cards feature short, peculiar, rhyming poems; it was almost a folk-art genre unto itself.
Anyway, you’ll see that the poem below describes a woolly mammoth being excavated, and then … resurrecting or something. (Or is this its ghost?) The prehistoric animal has a creepy (though quaint and nicely vivid poem) addressing his saviors. I’m pretty sure it’s about women’s suffrage, though I’m not sure whether it’s for or against. I’m leaning toward the latter. The poem gets harder to read toward the end, but … does it describe the female animals leading the males “meekly” to their long-ago death and entombment in the ice? (And the author’s position is sort of implied by the one-word query, “Suffragette?” circled and written in blood-red letters.)
There are two cupids endeavoring to kill this unholy animal; you can find them in the top corners. Because it’s a zombie, they are wisely aiming for its head.
“Merry Christmas,” in other words.
What is sassafras, exactly, anyway? I can honestly you that I do not know for sure.
Indiana State Board of Health Monthly Bulletin. Artist undetermined.
Public servants in 1912 were a weird bunch. (Although I’m not sure that Betsy DeVos and Jeff Sessions are a huge step up.)
Oil on panel.