Author Topic: Pictures of Playmobil Past  (Read 811 times)

Offline Klicky_Ghost

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Pictures of Playmobil Past
« on: May 08, 2021, 16:04:41 »
Hello everyone!  :wave:

I have finally gotten around to cleaning out the clutter in the attic of my Victorian mansion (5300) in anticipation of a few future renovations. Already I have come across several items of historical interest hidden amongst the bric-a-brac, and I felt that I should share them, both for purposes of historical documentation and because they may be of interest to members here. I have only just begun the process of cleaning out the house, and hope that there may be more discoveries in the future. But on to the past...

The first item of interest is a pair of Daguerreotype portraits that I found in a dresser drawer. After doing some research, I have discovered that the photographs were taken in 1848 of the opera singer Jane Morndry (née Darling) and her husband, the pianist/composer Jean-Luc Morndry. The couple had a famously tumultuous relationship, partly due to the fact that Jane was by far the more well-known and successful during their lifetimes; this was not helped by the fact that Jane only spoke English and Jean-Luc only spoke French. The couple separated in 1850, a few years after sitting for this pair of twin Daguerreotypes. Jean-Luc soon turned to gambling and alcohol, dying penniless of an opium overdose in 1852. Rumors swirled in the public imagination that Jane or her lover, the infamous Count von Stein, had something to do with Jean-Luc's untimely death, and Jane saw diminished success on the stage. She died of consumption in 1858.





The next item of interest is a painted portrait I found wrapped in a sheet and hidden at the back of a wardrobe in the corner of the attic. On the back of the painting is written: "Portrait of Pauline with a Parrot, 1901." I have not been able to identify the Pauline in the portrait (nor the parrot), but the painting is signed by Claude Playmonet. Playmonet appears to be a fairly-well known artist working largely in the impressionist style popular during the period. This portrait was painted toward the end of his life, and you can definitely see influences of the burgeoning Art Nouveau movement which he would help to shape.


I hope to keep everyone updated on any new discoveries!
We get up at twelve and start to work at one, take an hour for lunch, and then at two we're done.

Offline tahra

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Re: Pictures of Playmobil Past
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2021, 17:54:16 »
Really interesting items you are unearthing :)
Thanks for sharing!

(please do introduce yourself)
Tahra

Offline GrahamB

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Re: Pictures of Playmobil Past
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2021, 09:23:07 »
(please do introduce yourself)

...in the 'Welcome' topic.

Great  creations sorry finds Klicky_Ghost
At that moment the ship suddenly stopped rocking and swaying, the engine pitch settled down to a gentle hum. 'Hey Ford.' said Zaphod, 'that sounds good. Have you worked out the controls on this boat?' 'No,' said Ford, 'I just stopped fiddling with them.' (With thanks to Douglas Adams)

Offline Klicky_Ghost

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Re: Pictures of Playmobil Past
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2021, 01:38:56 »
Thanks, tahra and GrahamB!  :) I have taken the suggestion and given a "short" introduction in the appropriate sub!

It has been several months since I inherited this mysterious old mansion from a distant and heretofore unknown relative, Henry Funnymoney, and I am just now finding the time to slowly go through its contents. I had heard that the old gentleman was a collector of sorts, but I never imagined the variety of interesting items to be found hidden throughout the house. Just the other day, I moved a dressing screen sitting against the wall in one of the bedrooms, and uncovered this lovely oval-framed portrait:


I instantly recognized the woman in the portrait as none other than the famed actress and entertainer Molly Brown! This portrait must date from the time of her European tour in the early 1880s. For those who may not know, Brown got her start performing in the saloons and dance halls of Colorado Springs in the early 1870s. From there, she moved to San Francisco, where she made a name for herself with her risqué and bawdy burlesque performances. It was here that she was discovered by Buffalo Bill Cody, who made her a star of his Wild West show. Molly Brown enjoyed tremendous success throughout Europe and America in the 1880s and 1890s, before retiring to her large estate in East Hampton.


I thought I might also expand on my previous post by sharing a few images I came across while doing research on the photographs posted previously. I found out that there is a somewhat well-known portrait of Jean-Luc Morndry in the National Portrait Gallery in London. The portrait was painted in 1850, only a few years before Jean-Luc's death; I am guessing that after his passing the portrait came into the possession of his estranged wife, who was living in London at the time, and thence into the hands of the NPG.


In my previous post I mentioned the infamous Count von Stein, who was Jane Morndry's lover toward the end of her life. The Count was an infamous playboy in his day, famous for his dalliances with married women. He spent the 1840s and 50s hopping from capital to capital, hanging about all of Europe's most exclusive artistic circles. Von Stein caused a scandal in 1862 when one of his spurned lovers committed suicide after the Count had blackmailed her with evidence of her infidelity. Later in life, von Stein served as a long-standing member of parliament; he lived to the ripe old age of 88, outliving all 4 of his children. The first photograph is a Daguerreotype portrait of Count von Stein dating from the mid- to late 1840s, during the early years of his famous bon vivant lifestyle. The second photograph is much later, dating to around 1890; it depicts an older Count von Stein with a memorial portrait featuring his four children.


« Last Edit: May 10, 2021, 03:14:41 by Klicky_Ghost »
We get up at twelve and start to work at one, take an hour for lunch, and then at two we're done.

Offline GrahamB

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Re: Pictures of Playmobil Past
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2021, 06:13:40 »
I'm loving these wonderful portraits of colourful characters from the past!
At that moment the ship suddenly stopped rocking and swaying, the engine pitch settled down to a gentle hum. 'Hey Ford.' said Zaphod, 'that sounds good. Have you worked out the controls on this boat?' 'No,' said Ford, 'I just stopped fiddling with them.' (With thanks to Douglas Adams)

Offline Hadoque

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Re: Pictures of Playmobil Past
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2021, 21:15:07 »
It reminds me 100+ years ago they used to dress up dead people and put them in as natural poses as possible, as would they still be alive, to then take pictures  :skull:

 ;D
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Offline Klicky_Ghost

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Re: Pictures of Playmobil Past
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2021, 00:53:58 »
I'm loving these wonderful portraits of colourful characters from the past!

Thanks, GrahamB!  :wave: I hope I will continue to make discoveries around the house that may be of interest to more than just myself.

It reminds me 100+ years ago they used to dress up dead people and put them in as natural poses as possible, as would they still be alive, to then take pictures  :skull:

Ah, yes! I hear people were dying to be photographed back then.  ::) (Okay, I'll show myself out  :-[ ). Though I can't imagine wanting to keep a picture of a dead relative as a keepsake today, there is something touching—though slightly unnerving nonetheless—about Victorian post-mortem photography.

Who knows but that I may yet find some portrait of the dead somewhere around the house!  ;)

Why, just this morning I was rifling through some papers, long forgotten in a deep drawer of a dusty desk located in the study, when I found this most lovely watercolor portrait hidden at the very bottom, seemingly untouched by the hands of time:


On the back of the unframed picture is written in a delicate hand: "Portrait of Pauline with Posies and a Pussycat" with the date 1905. The picture is unsigned, and I do wonder if the portrait was painted by an accomplished friend or relative of the sitter. Watercolor painting was considered a very genteel pastime during the period, to be sure. I still have not been able to identify the mysterious Pauline in the portrait—there does not appear to be a Pauline in the previous families who owned the house, which dates to the early 1870s. Perhaps continuing the search will yield more clues?
We get up at twelve and start to work at one, take an hour for lunch, and then at two we're done.

Offline Macruran

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Re: Pictures of Playmobil Past
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2021, 02:22:47 »
Great pics, made all the better by the stories!  :gent:
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Offline Klicky_Ghost

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Re: Pictures of Playmobil Past
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2021, 03:57:24 »
Great pics, made all the better by the stories!  :gent:

Thanks Macruran! :wave: I consider myself lucky to be finding such well-preserved items of interest.

Just today, I finally had time to go through some of the old books filling the long-untouched shelves of the study. Among the interesting old tomes, I was amazed to discover several antique albums filled with carte-de-visite photographs dating from the late 1870s through to the early 1900s! While many of the photographic portraits are of normal, everyday people (like the friends and family of previous owners), there are quite a few photographs depicting illustrious persons and notable celebrities of the day.

For instance, I came across this lovely portrait below of Anna Louise LaBelle, one of the first women in Europe to earn a formal degree in chemistry. LaBelle was one of the few people to conduct research into early thermoplastics, paving the way for their use in a variety of everyday objects. LaBelle was famous for her saying "everything is chemistry and chemistry is everything." Unfortunately, many of the chemicals used by LaBelle in her research were toxic in large doses, and she died relatively young in 1918; however, she had lived to see her research put to great use with many applications in the medical industry, which saw widespread use during the First World War.


I also came across this interesting photograph of Bertha Mills and her governess/teacher, Mary O'Clare. Bertha Mills was born blind, deaf, and without the ability to move her body in 1873 to a wealthy family in Boston, Massachusetts. Bertha was seemingly cut off from the outside world entirely, trapped in her own body and mind. When she was six years old, the family hired Mary O'Clare to be her governess. May had been a teacher to the deaf, and she developed a method of communication with Bertha using a system of blinks, which soon developed into a full language. Not only did Bertha learn to communicate, but she quickly became a child prodigy, excelling in the areas of mathematics and physics. By the time she was 13 years old (when this photograph was taken), Bertha was giving lectures on advanced mathematical concepts, with Mary acting as her interpreter. Bertha Mills would eventually go on to study at university, earning a doctorate in mathematics in 1894. She would go on to become a distinguished professor, defining several important mathematical concepts; Mary O'Clare would stay by her side until the end of her life, helping Bertha to navigate the world and communicate her unique wisdom.


Perhaps even more exciting, I happened upon a large trunk in a corner of the cellar which I have not yet fully explored. Inside the trunk, I was shocked to discover another beautiful framed portrait, this one entitled "Portrait of Pauline in Pink."


This appears to be the same Pauline seen in previous portraits with that name. But who is she? The only clue here is the signature of the aritst: "Alfred Stitzl, 1916." Stitzl is another artist of some renown, working largely in the Early Expressionist style seen here. The bold colors, dynamic lines, and slightly warped perspective seen in this painting are characteristic of the style; the symbolism with the white lilies and the white Bible on the table are characteristic of Stitzl's work.

The identity of Pauline remains a mystery for now. Sometimes, lying alone in this dark old house at night, I swear I can almost here a voice whisper the name: Pauline...
« Last Edit: May 16, 2021, 18:23:55 by Klicky_Ghost »
We get up at twelve and start to work at one, take an hour for lunch, and then at two we're done.

Offline playmovictorian

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Re: Pictures of Playmobil Past
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2021, 09:29:09 »
I love your Artwork and your take on these historical figures  :love:

What a wonderful idea to match these stunning and so creative pictures with stories of these colourful characters  :)

Thank you so much for sharing these pictures and stories with us  :thanks:

Great thread that I will always have pleasure visiting again  :wave:

Karim
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