This four generation portrait has a fascinating color story, and I suspect that the three women thought carefully about what they were wearing for the photograph. The young girl is in white, the color of innocence. Her mother, perhaps in her mid twenties, wears what looks like an all black dress, although the somber effect is lightened by the transparent sleeves and neckline. The little girl’s grandmother wears a deep black dress, broken up with a white collar. Older women were often advised to wear white collars and/or scarves in order bring light to their faces. The great grandmother on the right wears black and a big lace collar, a common detail on the clothes of older women.
Although this beautifully composed photo is undated, I’m guessing that it comes from the 1910s. I found it an antique store in Selma, North Carolina on a recent trip to see family and friends. Lizzie Bramlett recommended a trip to the town, which is largely made up of antique stores. It was well worth a visit.