Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Family portraits

I love watching old photographs; they are a great resource when it comes to fashion. And it’s especially fun to do it when it’s family. So here are a couple of my great-grandmothers.

My father’s paternal grandmother Elisa, my namesake. The photo is taken in 1890 when she was ten years old. She was something of a tom-boy, there are letters from her mother to her father where it says; Elin (Elisa's older sister) is daily to my help and joy, but Elisa brings me to despair with her wild ways.

Elisa was a very talented musician and wanted to be a concert pianist, but that was an unthinkable career for a wealthy girl from a manor house at that time. She rebelled in her own way, I suppose, when she married my great-grandfather, who came from really poor circumstances, though he had worked himself upward with the help of a brilliant brain.

The shape of her eyes is a very distinct family characteristic, and it can be traced back as far as there are photos, i.e. to around 1850. My grandfather had them to, and so have my father and his siblings. I have the general shape, though not as heavy-lidded, but I look at her hands and I realize that mine are the same and so is my son’s.

And this is her mother, Laura. I love her dress. I’m not sure when this portrait was taken, but she was born in 1840 and died sometime in the 1890’s. One of her ancestress, and therefore mine too, was Ingela Hammar, probably the only female privateer Sweden has ever had. She was married to Lasse i Gatan and ran the privateer business with him, and also, successfully, after his death.

An unknown relative.

My father’s maternal grandmother Lydia aged four, with her little brother. She was born in the 1880’s.

And at 15.

25 years old. If I inherited my eyes and hands from Elisa, Lydia gave me the rest. She’s much prettier than I am, but I resemble her quite a bit.

Her mother Matilda. She was a Walloon and one of her ancestress was accused, but aquitted of being a witch in the late 17th century. I would like to know more about that trial.



Clare said...

How wonderful these photos are. Your family sound very interesting - privateers, not-witches and manor houses! Thank you very much for sharing.

Isiswardrobe said...

Well, I don't tell you of all the countless generations of farmers, do I? On the other hand, I modestly refrained from saying that one of my forefather's was one of the Swedish kings in the Middle Ages... ;-)

Madame Berg said...

What a lovely source of family history you have. My family was totally dull but I too have some late 19th/early 20th c photographs where you clearly see features that my mother and even I have inherited. Knowing something about your background offers a bit of security in this strange world of today, I think.

Isiswardrobe said...

Madame Berg: I agree, it's nice to have those threads to the past, it sort of anchors you. I have some things that belonged to the first ELisa, like a sampler she made when she was nine, and it's really nice to have.

I always thought my family history was dull too, but the more I dig, the more stuff I find. :-)

Anonymous said...

Lyckost! Jag har knappt några gamla foton alls av äldre tiders släktingar, och bara ett porträtt som är äldre än 1940-talet.

Isis said...

therru: Tack! Ja, jag är väldigt glad över dem!

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