Who was the lady with the sad eyes?

She looks into your eyes across time — sad and far away, the lovely woman in the photograph.  She was no elegant lady of fashion.  Her beautiful bonnet would have been the acme of style in the 1840’s when she was married, but by the time she posed for the daguerreotypist in the 1850’s it was just a little too fussy and too large.  We know that she was a hard worker.  Her linens and printed gown are spotlessly clean and pressed.  She is not old, but there are already lines etched on her pretty face.  


So, who was she?  We will never know.  Almost certainly, she was a farmer’s wife from northern New York State, where her photograph surfaced a century and a half later. 

I wonder what family cast out her picture, consigning it to the flotsam and jetsam of the antique trade?  Obviously, there was no one left alive among her descendants who remembered her name.  -But did no one in the family resemble her?  Was an accruel of $50 more important then keeping her where she belonged?

It is an humbling thought.  We all feel so needed, so connected while we live, but who will keep our life and times alive, after we are gone?

1 Comment

Filed under Archives, Material culture, Photography

One response to “Who was the lady with the sad eyes?

  1. Janis Bisback

    many years ago, my aunt arrived to visit my mother and father and presented them with a wedding picture that she had purchased in an antique shop in Nova Scotia ( where my father was born) my mother was mortified that her sister in law requested money to repatriate a photo likely a gift for someone far away who couldnt come to Ontario to celebrate their nuptials in the the 1940’s. . no names on the back of the photo, but it was definately my parents in the photo! must happen more than we know or experience! thanks for a very interesting blog.

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