Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sepia Saturday 328: To the Rescue

Our theme image for Sepia Saturday 328 - post your posts on or around Saturday 30 April 2016 and link to the list below - is a 1914 photograph from the Flickr Commons collection of the Dutch National Archives. The caption of the photograph is "The Great War. Refugees from Antwerp, Belgium, bringing a painting into safety. Belgium, 1914" As with all Sepia Saturday visual prompts, you are free to go in whichever direction you want when interpreting this theme: there is plenty of subject matter in there just waiting to be rescued. 
Unknown artist: photograph by Nancy Javier
"I just wanted to share my new painting. Barbara and I spotted it on the side of the road in a pile of trash. She jumped out of the car and picked it up and I took it home and hung it up. It really makes me happy. I can't imagine why it was thrown away."

Barbara and Nancy introduced me to Sepia Saturday. They are rescuers of both animals and things. The above was Nancy's note on Facebook about this painting they found. The painting makes me happy too, because it was rescued but also because of the look in the eyes of the subject. I think she's asking the question, "Why was I dumped?" She was destined to find a home with Nancy and Barbara. 

I wondered if the painter was portraying two sides of this woman's personality. I know there's a shadow on one side, but the effect is of shorter, more intensely colored hair on her left and a brighter blue eye. Her right side is softer and a little more yielding. I love the unsmiling pose and the slightly off-center position of her face on the canvas.  

I echo Nancy's wonder, "Who would throw this away?"

Recently I rescued this photo from a local antique store. My rescue was more deliberate than Nancy/Barbara's; I found her for sale in an antique shop. The photo was shuffled in with postcards addressed to her from various places around the country. They all must have been part of an estate sale. I was attracted to her because of the date,1942, the year I was born, and her curly hair. Because I know her name I was able to look her up on Ancestry and find out that she was married to an optometrist in Whittier for 20 years before his death in 1977 after which she moved to Orange where she died in 2008. There was a postcard from her father in the same pile of photos and he spelled her last name incorrectly. I thought that was telling. Her husband had been married once before and perhaps her Dad didn't like him.  

Nancy and Barbara taught me how to see things in paintings that I never saw before. The pleasure I get out of viewing art has increased a thousand fold because of cruising art shows and garage sales with them. Here is a photo of me enjoying a still life in Amsterdam last year at the Rijksmuseum. I could have spent an hour on this one canvas alone.

Adriaen von Utrecht painted the banquet still life in 1644. Was it a show-off piece to demonstrate that he could paint anything? Painting was very competitive at that time and he showed in this scene that he could paint with pin-point accuracy: glass, stamped brass, seafood, bakery goods, fruit, furniture and even a monkey. The monkey, as the central figure in the secondary grouping, may be delivering the morality message in the scene as the animal frequently represented "sin" in these paintings. The fact that he's off the chain and the scene is so over-the-top luscious may lead one to interpret the painting as a cautionary tale about excess. Ah yes....nothing exceeds like excess!

Not that I'm any expert, but gradually I'm starting to learn what I like and to be able to say why I like it. Would I have liked the sketch below by Andy Warhol? No...I probably wouldn't
have paid ten dollars for it on the basis of it's merit, however it was signed and Mr. Fields might have had his suspicions. It's one of the greatest garage sale/rescues of all - photo and information from


  1. They say that beauty, or art, is in the eye of the beholder. I think your found art is much better than over priced gallery art. My neighbor is a professional artist and a few years ago she asked me to help her husband take some old paintings to the dump. They were quite large and attractive abstracts that had become slightly discolored from mildew while in storage. I let her husband chuck them into the landfill where a giant bulldozer crushed them. My friend often does this with artwork that in her eyes has flaws that makes it unsaleable.

  2. I’ve not had time to join in with Sepia Saturday this week, but I always enjoy reading the posts, and yours appealed to me no end. Firstly, because I’m a Barbara, and I’m glad this Barbara was rescued! I also love the photograph you found and envy you the joy of looking at her life. I love doing that!

  3. I have never visited the Rijksmuseum, but I hope to do so before long. I can see why you were drawn to that canvas; I would be too. I’m glad you rescued the lovely curly-headed lady for us all to enjoy as well.

  4. The painting hanging in my dining room reminding me of places I've walked came - frame & all - from a thrift shop. Oddly enough, many years after my Mom's friend did an oil painting copy of a small picture Mom had found in a dime store, I found an even larger print copy of the same picture at a yard sale. You just never know what you're going to find or where you're going to find it!

  5. A most enjoyable post Helen. I can see why the two portraits of the ladies were rescued.

  6. I'll admit to never liking Warhol. I tend to dislike when the artist becomes more famous than the work. If I were the guy I'd sell that sucker. But then I prefer the photo you bought. And actually I think Andy would like it too.

  7. She Once Was Lost but Now She's Saved !
    A Mighty Rescue ,Barbara Nancy & Helen.
    Yes! She Does Look Like She Demanded To Be Found!
    Generally ,I find paintings problematic.It can be hard sometimes to separate how we truly feel about a painting with how we think others expect us to react...!
    In Art Galleries I often end up observing fellow visitors...trying to assess their reaction .We are all' exhibits 'i guess ..........
    Saying that ,it may sometimes be interesting to look for wasnt in the picture.The pretty lady with cury hair for example.Who was she looking at when the photo was taken?Not the photographer (or us,the viewer) .She is looking towards some one/thing ,not visible, the the right of the camera....A mystery we will never solve.A bit like Life itself?

  8. Thanks for thinking Nancy and I taught you something. I think we just brought out something that was already there.