Friday, October 28, 2016

A Mysterious Woman from the Past

Sorting through paperwork from a family estate, we found a large envelope filled with old photos. 
We weren't sure where they came from or who they were. 
As I sifted through them, I looked for evocative images on cardboard or heavy paper.

And here's what I found . . . Isn't she a beauty?


This photo of a mysterious young woman, probably from the turn of the century,
touched my heart but I wasn't sure why.

Was it the portrait's glimpse into the past --
another era gone by, a time before cell phones or video or computers?

It's hard to look at these old photos without wondering about the story behind them.


Was it the pose that drew me to her -- so unusual for that time period?
Is she dreaming about something, perhaps unattainable, but so very desirable?

Or maybe she's remembering a lost love, 
resting her elbow on the arm of the chair with her hand against her face,
imagining it's his hand.


What about her long, loose hair?
Most women in these old photos wore their hair pinned up or gathered in a tight bun. 
And her hands look smooth and soft. 
Was she a daughter of privilege? 
Or was she a governess, missing her family far away?


Although the photo is sepia-toned, I imagine she had red hair and green eyes. 
With that ivory skin, she must have been enchanting.


Her dress, while modest, suggests a sensuality and youthful desire.
You can't help but notice her teeny tiny waist. 
Is there a corset cinched up under that dress?


Sometimes there's a note on the back of these old photos
with the name of the person in the picture or a date like the one below.
Scrawled in flowery handwriting in ink or smudged pencil, 
these simple notes often tell you something about the people in the photo.


Unfortunately, the back of this photo is blank.  
So we don't know who she was, where she was from
or why she has that faraway look in her eyes.


There's something about this picture that haunts me and captures my heart.
So I tuck it into the mirror on my desk so that I see it every time I sit down to write.


This mysterious woman from the past sends my thoughts swirling
and inspires me to follow my dreams. 

28 comments:

  1. She is lovely! I bet she was the young lady of the family--I don't suppose governesses were lucky enough to get their photo taken. But I also can imagine her sitting there, the photographer directing, "raise your chin a bit higher...yes, a little more...don't move!"

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment. You're probably right about governesses not having their pictures taken. Whatever she was, she was definitely lovely.

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  2. I too wonder who she is, what she is thinking. If it were a British photo, I would assume it to be around 1890-1900 because of the ruffles around the neck and the sleeves and I would assume she was actually quite a young girl, late teens at the oldest, but I have no idea about American fashions at that time. I have lots of family photos from that period, often they have been hand painted with watercolours or a very simple watercolour wash, to give them some colour, that was how they made colour photos in those times, how incredibly clever is that!

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    1. Thanks for visiting. I have some color-washed photos too but I actually prefer the sepia ones. I've nicknamed her "Hope." Seems to fit.

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  3. I, like you, love this picture. You have a vivid imagination. Wouldn't it be great if someone somewhere had this picture as a part of their family history and could fill you in on who she was?

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    1. Thanks Jan! I agree it would be wonderful if someone identified this young girl and filled in the blanks. Meanwhile, we can imagine!

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  4. I love old photographs. If there is not as story, I tend to make one up. If there is a name, I try to find them online. Your photo is unusual in the style - very informal.

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    1. Thank you Donna! I have a feeling you probably enjoy genealogy as well. It's so fun to find out where we (or they) came from.

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  5. I often look at the face in such old photos and try and imagine the young girl as she would be today; different clothes, hairstyles, jewellery, make-up. Sometimes, I sense a real cheekiness and imagine her fitting very easily into a modern world. In this young lady's case, sadness and resignation come to mind. It'd be interesting to know the background.

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    1. Thank you for commenting Catherine. I'd love to know the history behind this pix. Maybe someone will see it and know who she is.

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  6. I love this picture. It makes you conjure up stories about her life and what was she thinking about.

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    1. Thank you Debra. She is so compelling it's hard not to imagine her life.

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  7. I'm so glad I clicked onto your link from TOTOH. This is really a gem -- definitely a unique pose for the period. She is so very beautiful, I can see why you were enchanted and must have her. Oh, the stories she could tell!

    Coming your way from TOTOH! So glad I did!

    ~ jeanie from The Marmelade Gypsy

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    1. Jeanie, I'm so glad you came by to see this lovely lady and hope you stop by my blog again soon for another visit and chat.

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  8. Your profile picture reminds me of this photo! Maybe she is a relative.....She certainly has a faraway look in her eyes. We came upon a large collection of old photos in my MIL's home, and have no idea who most of them are, but I enjoy looking at them. I think I posted about them a couple of years ago. I enjoyed meeting Hope. :)

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    1. Hi Kathy, wouldn't that be funny if she were a long lost cousin? We do have the same kind of pose; I hadn't noticed that until you pointed it out. I love old photos too.

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  9. You are so right, there is a faraway dreamy look in her eyes. I want to know more of her story as well as you. Thank you for sharing this mystery woman at DI&DI.

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    1. Thanks for visiting Linda. If we only knew who she was ...

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  10. The photo is beguiling and does draw you in! I love reading the back of old photos and postcards hoping to find a glimpse of the past. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

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    1. Thanks Jann. I'd never seen an old photo like this before. It really grabbed me!

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  11. I love old photographs and often find myself wondering about them...wish they could come alive and speak to us!
    Thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY!
    Blessings,
    Cindy

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    1. Thank you Cindy! I wonder if someone will find our web sites in a hundred years and wonder who we were.

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  12. That is an unusual pose. Very captivating. Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!

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    1. Thank you for visiting and meeting this special lady.

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  13. She is fascinating, Pat--what a find. Thanks for sharing her with all of us at Vintage Charm :)

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    1. Thank you Diana. I'm so glad I found her. I still wonder who she was.

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