Archive for the Painting Category

For Ways That Are Dark, 1912

Posted in 10s, Halloween, Painting, Postcard, SFW on 9 May 2008 by redwitch1

The above is one of a pair of embossed Halloween postcards. They are unsigned and I have been unable to find out anything about them except the obvious: they are gorgeous, the series number “552” appears on both, and they clearly date from 1912 because the second of them is postmarked 28 October 1912, from Woodstock, Oregon (the message: “Dear Friend, I hope you have a jolly hallowe’en. Your Friend, J. E. B.”). The first is my favourite: who could resist a face (and a dress!) like that.

Even the cat is impressed!

The caption to this first postcard is interesting: “Hallowe’en Time: For ways that are dark, / And for tricks that are vain, Look Out!” This is a quote is from Bret Harte, “Plain Language from Truthful James” (aka “The Heathen Chinee”), which was published in 1870 as a satire on anti-Chinese sentiment in northern California (as Wikipedia explains). The poem is about a card game, and a cheating “Heathen Chinee” named “Ah Sin” (“In his sleeves, which were long, / He had twenty-four packs / Which was coming it strong”). The lines are from the opening stanza:

Which I wish to remark—
And my language is plain—
That for ways that are dark
And for tricks that are vain,
The heathen Chinee is peculiar:
Which the same I would rise to explain.

(see here for the full poem).

What this has to do with Halloween is not clear, but as Gary Scharnhorst explains it was “one of the most popular poems ever published,” being reprinted, parodied, set to music, illustrated etc so many times that even news stories about murder and tax evasion were sometimes headlined “Ways That Are Dark” and “Tricks That Are Vain” (“Ways That Are Dark: Appropriations of Bret Harte’s Plain Language from Truthful James,” Nineteenth-Century Literature 51.3 (December 1996), 377, 382–83). Clearly the two lines work well out of context!

By comparison the copy on the second postcard is pretty feeble: “Halloween. It’s Best Beware of the Witching Hour, In which the Witches Show Their Power.” It is just as well the picture is pretty!

Well, reasonably pretty.

Walpurgisnacht, 1928

Posted in 20s, Painting, Postcard, SFW on 2 May 2008 by redwitch1

The Hexenritt is over for another year, and the sun shines one again on the Hexentanzplatz. To help keep your memories fresh until 30 April next year, I have scanned this postcard from 1928. Although it is a mixed card, containing young and old, witches, cats and goats, it is pretty cute, and so I hope you all like it. And, keep in mind Goethe’s lines “O’er stick and o’er stone they go whirling along, / Witches and he-goats, a motley throng,” or, kittydiggins said, “Happy Walpurgas Night to all the sexy witches, and to their Grandmothers”!

Here is our sexy witch:

And her friends:

Don’t forget to have another look at my many previous posts on the Walpurgis Night celebrations: Germany’s Walpurgisnacht Witches, Welti’s Walpurgisnacht, The Witches’ Ride, Brocken Money, More Brocken Money and Walpurgisnacht, 1928.

Wholesome Dancing Witch, 1939

Posted in 30s, Magazine, Painting, SFW on 11 April 2008 by redwitch1

The cover art to this issue of The Household Magazine 39.10 (October 1939) is by Walter S. Oschman (fl. 1940–60). Oschman is known today for illustrating children’s picture books and school textbooks (including “Look and Learn” Books and “Dick and Jane” readers like All Around Us (1945), We Learn to Read (1947) and Hello, David (1948), The New More Friends and Neighbors (1953) etc). He was also, apparently, a “Mountie artist”! But, as AskART explains, it is probably because of his background in children’s books that Oschman’s other art is “marked by [its] lightness, lack of detail, and pastel hues.”

In this 1939 composition we have a woman at a Halloween masquerade ball, dancing in a red dress and witch’s hat, joined by a dapper young man who is still wearing his mask, but has it pulled up. In the foreground we have an elderly couple, silver-haired and smiling while they watch the young couple. They are also dancing, but in a dignified closed position. They appear to be the chaperons of the young couple.

In the background a brass band is playing. The musicians are all wearing overalls, suggesting a country locale, which contrasts starkly with the dresses and fine suits of the dancers. The country-cloths, however, go perfectly with the harvest decorations: the carved pumpkin Jack-O-Lanterns and bunches of corn, giving a wholesome backdrop to this scene.

And, unlike last-week’s witch in a red dress, there is no apple, no suggestion of danger, no sinister sub-text, and no implied warning to the young man dancing with his rosy-cheeked companion, or to you (the person looking at this scene). There is no condemnation from the moral guardians looking on because this witch is a symbol of all that was right in America in 1939.

Opening the Party Season in 1926

Posted in 20s, Magazine, Painting on 7 March 2008 by redwitch1

‘When Halloween Opens the Party Season … You’ll Need New Stockings’ and a Tardis to travel back to October 1926 to buy them. If you can manage the Tardis, please, please return with the model for this stunning ad.

This is the earliest of the four Ipswich advertisement I have posted (see 1920s Witch in Stockings, December 1926; Ipswich Witch, 1927, March 1927; and Ipswich Witch, 1927 May 1927), and the first with an artist’s name: ‘Meddy’. Unfortunately, I can’t find out anything about Meddy, but this painting speaks for itself: Meddy was one talented commercial artist. At least as talented as the Ipwsich copy-writer:

You’ll Need New Stockings … in the new colors for fall. Halloween begins a new season. Party frocks, masquerade costumes, fall fashions … these timely considerations send the feminine world [not female world, so this includes cross-dressing men] to take stock of closets and bureau draws, and then to go shopping. You can buy ahead for a whole season at an Ipswich hosiery counter and still stay within the limits of a thrifty budget

Remember, this delightful flapper is a witch. See any moles? No, though I’m sure you’d like to examine her more closely. Warts, wens and wrinkles? No. I have done 135 posts and—thankfully—there is no end in sight to these sexy witches!

Another Beautiful Ipswich Witch, 1927

Posted in 20s, Advertising, Painting, SFW on 8 February 2008 by redwitch1

Twice before I have posted late-1920s advertisements for Ipswich Hosiery Stockings: 1920s Witch in Stockings (December 1926) and Ipswich Witch, 1927 (March 1927). The advertisement below is another from what now appears to have been a sequence, all painted by the one artist. It was published in May 1927.

Note the shadow on the wall. This is a variation of the “pretty-witch with hag-mask” theme I have mentioned before (here and here). In this case, we are reminded of what our pretty-witch is not (a hag) by the hag-shadow, or maybe this is the visual cue to what our beautiful young woman is (a witch). One could take this further and suggest that it is a reminder that, within every beautiful young woman, the hag lies waiting, but I think the artist had ‘pretty-but-a-witch’ more in mind.

The title to this advertisement is “Ye Modern Witch of Ipswich.” (Once again, we have the definition of a witch: *A witch, according to the dictionary, is one who “exerts power more than natural; an irresistible influence.” In this sense Ipswich is truly “The Modern Witch” of hosiery, for Ipswich sets the standard for beauty, fineness and durability in smart hosiery.). We are also told Here is a potent four-fold hosiery charm, to add enchantment to the loveliest costume for daytime or evening ware … Charm Four—Ipswich Fashion Features. Extra length of silk above the knee for abbreviated frocks … (And now you will know why I wanted to title this post “Another Beautiful Ipswich Witch, in an Abbreviated Frock, 1927.” Unfortunately, titles on Blogger must be even more abbreviated than the frocks, so it wasn’t to be).

Klemke’s Fairy Tale Witch, 1990

Posted in 90s, Painting, Postcard on 7 December 2007 by redwitch1

This delightful image by Werner Klemke (1917-94) was published as a postcard by Planet-Verlag in 1990 [SBM332]. The Lambiek Comiclopedia explains (here) that Klemke was born in Berlin and lived in East-Germany after WWII, teaching at the Berlin-Weissensee from 1951.

Klemke mostly illustrated fairy tales, novels and magazines, but this lovely witch is certainly not of the fairy-tale variety. At least, I don’t recall witches in three-quarter stockings and pom-pom peeptoes in the fairy-tales I read. The cat, however, is very witchy and the backward broom a reminder of what I have said before on the debate about how you really ride a broom.

As for the man in his striped pajamas trying to lasso our witch, we can only wish him luck. He’ll need it!

Melbourne Cup Witch, 1912

Posted in 10s, Painting, Postcard, SFW on 2 November 2007 by redwitch1

The following postcard was posted at Portland, Oregon, at 3.30PM on Saturday 2 November 1912, ninety-five years ago today! It was issued by The Ullman Manufacturing Co., New York (about whom I can find nothing online) in their “Hallowe’en Series” [No. 143, Subject No. 2413]. It is not clear who the artist is, since they are not credited, and the only signature I can make out is an upside-down “T. D.” (or, possibly, a sideways “A. E.”).

I love the wand (doubling as a whip) for the JOL-headed broom (doubling as a horse). And since our beautiful Halloween Witch is riding her broom as if it were a horse, she must, of course, ride side-saddle. And given the magnificent hat and gown that our fashionable witch is wearing I suspect she is flying to Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup. If she were to turn up on the first Tuesday this November she would definitely win an award at the “Fashions on the Field.”

BTW: the hat looks a bit like a petasus, the symbol of Hermes (Mercury to the Romans), the fleet-footed messenger of the Gods (which would be appropriate, but only in a weird kind of way).


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