Cassie and Jennie, 1932

A handwritten message on the back of this photo gives me names and dates, and I know that it comes from my stepfather’s family.  Unfortunately, there is no one left to tell me who Cassie and Jennie were. I do not even know their relationship to one another. Is this a mother-daughter photo? The woman on the left is holding on to the younger woman’s arm, perhaps for stability in lieu of a cane.

Given their gloves, hats, and lightweight coats, I’m wondering if perhaps this is an Easter portrait.  The hats and the cuts of their coats still have a 1920s flavor to them, even though a new decade had begun. The older woman’s clothes look especially dated, in her cloche hat and wide-collared coat with a single button closure. 

The composition of the photo tells a story. The older woman is dressed almost entirely in dark colors, with only a printed sliver of her blouse and a few hints of silver to relieve her somber look.  Posed in the back, it looks as if she knew her time was coming to an end.  The middle aged woman in the front is dressed entirely in lighter colors, with just a hint of darkness in the necklace around her neck.  She moves forward towards us while her companion moves back.

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2 Responses to Cassie and Jennie, 1932

  1. Bob Moeller says:

    I wonder if the backdrop and lighting suggest that it’s a studio photo in which case the photographer might have suggested the colors they might wear to make the best B/W photo.

  2. I like your analysis, Lynn. As for wearing what the photographer suggested, we ought to remember that colors as different as red, green, brown and navy photograph as black. The movie Jezebel, starring Bette Davis, was intended to be photographed in color, but the studio went with cheaper black and white film at the last minute. The plot turns on Bette’s decision to wear a red dress to the cotillion instead of virginal white, but in the movie she seems to be wearing black!
    I think they made it strapless (not historically correct) to compensate for its lack of shocking red color.

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