A WINTERTIME FAMILY PORTRAIT IN WINDSOR, NEW YORK

This cabinet card features a family portrait taken in Windsor, New York. The family constellation appears to be composed of a father, mother, two adult sons, and a little girl who was likely an afterthought. The four older subjects are all holding their hats and the young girl has mittens hanging from her coat. The entire family is well-dressed. The photographer is listed as Conrad and the studio is listed as being located in Windsor, New York. However, the reverse of the image has a printed advertisement for the Binghamton Art Gallery, located at 493 Court Street, in Binghamton, New York. Windsor and Binghamton are about sixteen miles apart. Perhaps Conrad had studios in both towns. The 1900 U.S. census lists a photographer living in Binghamton named Edward E. Conrad. Note the confirming monogram on the center bottom of the cabinet card indicates that  the photographer’s initials are “E. E.”.  Edward Conrad (1857- ?) lived with his wife Susie, their three school age daughters, and a boarder.  Edward and Susie were married in 1887. The 1920 U. S. census discloses that at age 63, Edward was still a photographer, and owned his own gallery. He still lived with Susie (age 52), but his children no longer lived home. However, there was still child rearing to do in the Conrad home. The couple lived with their two and a half year-old grandchild.

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Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 12:11 am  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have seen this a number of times now, this practice of leaving the heavy outer garments on, even when taking an indoor studio photo, and even when, as appears here, the backdrop is summery. I’m not sure why that was done. Did they get seasonal photos taken? Were their outer garments their nicest clothes? Was it really that cold in the studio? With at least one of my photos it was suggested that a coat was being worn to help mask a pregnancy, but I don’t suppose that’s the case with anyone here. I’d be curious if anyone has thoughts on this. In any case, this is a lovely photo.

  2. You raise an interesting question concerning why photographers and/or their subjects desired studio photographs featuring faux winter scenes. I suppose that there was some frustration about the inability or impracticality of taking outdoor portraits. One way of dealing with that frustration was to fake outdoor images via wearing winter clothing. Of course photographers went to even greater lengths to feign winter (i.e. fake snowflakes and snow drifts). In addition, photographers seem to have tried to introduce action in their photographs, and perhaps the use of subjects dressed in outerwear gave the suggestion of activity (people coming or going). You may be right about your hypotheses that people’s outer garments may have been their nicest clothes; a plausible explanation for employing winter wear in photographic portraits. Thanks for your astute observation and for introducing such an interesting topic.

    • That all makes sense. Thanks for your reply!


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