Catherine in the Catskills, 1924

Found photo

Had it not been for the writing on the back of this photo—Catherine Butle, Stamford NY, 1924—I might have placed this photo in the American Southwest.  The rocks, the artsy embroidered dress and the graduated bead necklace—very much in the style of “Navajo pearls,”–made me suspect she might have been one of those creative women who migrated to New Mexico in teens and twenties. In fact, though, she was on the opposite side of the country. Maybe my guess was a sign of West Coast chauvinism.

Vintage post card

The ebay seller offered additional information about her location.  She stands at the well-known rock arch by Loch Marion in the Catskills.  What looks like empty space in the background of the photo is in fact a lake.

Catherine’s entire outfit identifies her as an older woman with an arty bent—the cropped hair, the embroidered dress, the bell sleeves, the ethnic looking jewelry.  The dress has no waistline at all, fitting in with the smock look long popular in Greenwich Village. 

Like the Greenwich Village artist and gallerist above, Jessie Tarbox Beals, Catherine has created the illusion of a waistline with a sash.  The two tiered dress look was already out of style by 1924, as was the long length.  But that dress involved a lot of handwork and clearly Catherine did not want to give it up.  Don’t you wonder if she did the embroidery herself?

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