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Friday, October 9, 2009

Why does this not look like a "matrimonial" to me?


Matrimonial - An artist, now engaged on a painting (entitled "The Group of Beauty") for exhibition in one of our galleries, would like to have the loan of a few cartes de visite of some young ladies from fifteen to twenty years of age, who do not object to having their portraits in such a group. The cartes de visite will be returned if directions are sent with them. Address Artist, box 4,053 Post office, for three days.


Huh.

A carte de visite, for those of you who haven't encountered the phrase before (I think I've mentioned them in earlier posts), is basically a photograph of themselves that people would hand out sort of like business cards (about the size of an index card), which, according to Wikipedia, became so popular that they spawned "cardomania," which, ha! You know, I think I just found the topic of a future book! So this artist basically wants to take your photograph and then put your face into a painting.

My question is, were the paintings going to be nudes? It's not like such things were uncommon at the time; just do a search for Victorian nudes and you'll come up with a plethora of material about this. It's possible that the artist is thinking about doing the Roman toga thing (also popular) but one way or another, any girl who let her face be used in such a way might be putting herself in an awkward position if the painting was ever seen (it certainly isn't on Google!). Especially if it was a nude!

Really, how odd. And what's it doing in the matrimonial column anyway? There were personals like the ones I've been showcasing all along in this paper - wouldn't it be more appropriate there? And on top of that, matrimonials didn't always start with that word. So even if he thought this was the best column to advertise in, he didn't have to begin it as if it really was a matrimonial. If I'm making any sense here.

I wonder if he had any luck? I'm sure there were a few romantic girls who were silly enough to think it would be wonderful to be in a painting entitled "The Group of Beauty."

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©2009 Pam Epstein

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