The Long Way Home

Painted Backdrops
March 21, 2012, 9:06 PM
Filed under: Vintage Photo Album | Tags: , , ,

father and daughter

I’ve been obsessed with trompe l’oeil paintings since I was a kid, begging my mother to create an entire forest scene on my bedroom wall (I still want one!). When looking through old photos, I sometimes buy them just for their painted backdrops. Our friend Steve tipped me off to collector Jim Linderman‘s The Painted Backdrop: Behind the Sitter in American Tintype Photography, which provides a great history on this very subject. The photos featured in this post are from our own collection. The tintype above is my favorite for many reasons – the bored expression and unladylike pose of the girl, the cigar that her father is holding, the unintentionally exposed wooden beam holding the backdrop. Painted scenes are like fairy tales, as if while turning the pages of the book I am reading, I can walk right into it and escape into another world.

at the window

Jeff's great-grandfather William Dye

a girl from Prague



10 Comments so far
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It reminds me of the old Monty python in between segments done by terry Gilliam. Brilliant finds!


Comment by motherblue212

monty python – yes!


Comment by Lisa

Thanks for these fairytale-like photos, they are truly bizarre and quite lovely at the same time. I love the stuffed dog story from Jeff too–it kind of fits with the storyline here. All best, M


Comment by Michael Williamson

you’re welcome, michael – i love the stuffed dog story too. jeff has a lot of really awesome vintage family photos, and so many stories from the Dye family tree.


Comment by Lisa

lovely, creepy and compelling. makes me want to know what their life-stories are!


Comment by Becky

I know, especially that first photo. And I am only speculating that the two are father and daughter. But he kind of wears a ‘proud papa’ face, don’t you think?


Comment by Lisa

My Great-Grandfather had a dog that was loved so much by the entire family that when it was hit and killed by a horse drawn buggy it was stuffed and kept in the home.
I spent many years searching for the taxidermied pup, but never found him. I wonder if that was just a weird story passed down, if that’s the dog in the photo or if someone out there has a family pet that needs to come home.


Comment by jeff

I am sure if we found that dog somewhere it would join company with princess kitty!


Comment by Lisa

I am so in love with this post! Do you have more? Can we please see them? Do you know DCPhotoartist’s blog? Wonderful backdrops but equally wonderful sitters! More please, more please!


Comment by Photobooth Journal

yay, katherine, i’m so happy you like the post (i thought you might enjoy the photos!). i am trying to organize all the photos that ‘go together,’ so to speak. and i’ll have to check out the link you were talking about too (I left a link on your PB Journal Facebook page for you to look at).


Comment by Lisa

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