Sunday, 10 May 2015

Guardian Angels -The Ancestors

A few months ago I found this fabulous Edwardian over mantel in the garage at our local church op shop and promptly bought it for $10. I lugged it home where it underwent closer examination. Who were the women in the photos and why had a lady (I presumed) chosen to frame them and admire them in her house so long ago? Perhaps they were her relatives?

Although the top row was painted portraits the five below were lovely Edwardian photos. I wasn't keen on the blue mount board, which was in poor condition anyway, so I set about taking the photos and glass out of the frames.
Zena Dare

As I removed the photos I was delighted to find that names had been penciled on the back of each photo. Really, they looked too professionally posed to be relatives. When I removed the photo in the bottom left hand corner and read the name Billie Burke on the back, I thought "Aha, actresses!"and I googled. Billie Burke was famous as a stage and screen actress in the silent movie era, and survived the transition to talkies. Her most famous role was probably as Glinda the good witch  of the north in The Wizard of Oz in 1939. But what a gorgeous photo of her as a young woman! I googled some more. Lo and behold, all the women in the photos were famous actresses of the stage and screen in the first 20 years of the 20th century.

Here they are:

Billie Burke

Adrienne Augarde

What was I going to do with this interesting but unconventional item? I thought that with a bit of work it might look nice in my vintage shop, or rather, in the upstairs spare bedroom that is my online shop and office.

Unfortunately, most of the photographs tore when I was removing them from the frames, but I can't quite bring myself to throw them away.
Agnes Fraser
Madge Lessing

The painted portraits turned out to be romantic works by Angelo Asti, member of the Royal Academy, the subjects being various heroines from literature and mythology.

I scrubbed the timber, then rubbed it with linseed oil. I thought maybe I could put my own ancestors in the frames. I had some of my old photos printed in sepia and had some new mount board cut. Today, I finally got around to reassembling it and I am very pleased with the result.

I put my parents at the centre - one of their first dates in the mid 1950s.

So, here it is finished, with  the ancestors standing by in support. I have hung it at the top of the stairwell near the entrance to my office/shop.

I like to think they are my guardian angels watching over me and supporting my ventures, with the ghosts of the actresses still there in spirit.

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