Ask Morgana 012: Study

ed24I shall preface this entry with a request. Some time ago I had in my collection an old photograph of two women, both in crinolines, one kneeling by the other effecting minor repairs to the skirt of her dress. I no longer have that particular collection (though I can’t recall why I got rid of it – after all the thought of a woman kneeling is one I relish… digressing!). I have an idle curiosity to track it down again and use it here, but it does not appear to be in any set of results that I can conjure from my favourite search engine. If the composition rings a bell with anyone, please get in touch via the email address on the ‘Contact’ page. Thank you.

The thumbnail photograph to the left, by the way, is a reminder of the hinterland of Victorian and Edwardian elegance – the army of domestic servants employed where today we have domestic appliances. The woman pictured may not be a maid, she could equally be a young wife in a respectable working-class home setting the day’s fire in the kitchen grate, and as such would have been part of the greater social hinterland.

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Below I have two charming studies I chose for presentation because of their similarity of subject matter. In the first, two young women are seen reading what may be a periodical. The photograph shows a moment of unaffected intimacy between them, their legs are touching, their attention is upon the same thing. Moreover indeed the shape of their legs is visibly pushing against the fabric of their dresses, in fact the form and figure of each young woman is emphasised by their wardrobe – the effect is almost erotic! The second photograph shows two girls in what we would now call their teens. They too are studying a magazine. The level of intimacy, exemplified by the way their heads touch, is typical of childhood friendship, again unaffected. There can only be a handful of years between the ages of each pair of subjects – a decade at most – but what differences there are, both subtle and overt, between each  photograph.

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