Three ridiculously interesting photographs from the history of art

Pablo Picasso wearing a bull's mask.

The models of American Gothic pose with Grant Wood's iconic painting.

Models for Grant Woods’ ‘American Gothic’ (1930) posed with painting. Via Twenty Two Words.

Robert Cornelius, the first photography self portrait.

Daguerreotype of Robert Cornelius, likely the first photographic self-portrait ever taken, c 1839. Via American Library of Congress.

These three intriguing photographs have no real relationship with one another, except that each image reveals a little bit of the hidden history of art. Read on for more about these remarkable images. Continue reading

Those backward Victorians

Group of Victorian women facing backward.

This image puzzled me for days when I first saw it on Pinterest. Why would a Victorian photographer take a picture of this group facing the wrong way? Was it an accident? A modern photoshopped joke? A symbol of mourning? Some sort of feminist statement? Documentation of a photography studio?

In classic academic fashion, I was over thinking it. I’ve done some research on the image and the answer turned out to be deceptively simple. It is not a modern fake, but a genuine tintype from ca 1880, from the Andrew Daneman collection of American Tintypes (photographer unidentified). Can you guess why they are facing backward before you read the answer? (Answer after the jump!) Continue reading