PhotographerIrene J. Hood
Image Dimensions: 15.3 x 20.4 cm corner-glued
Support Dimensions: 18.1 x 22.4 cm manilla-colored, mottled stock
As indicated on the mount, this plant with flower is a cactus photographed in the field and believed to be from the genus classification Echinocereus.
In 1908, the artist and amateur photographer Irene Elizabeth Jerome Hood of Colorado compiled an album of 36 cyanotype photographs depicting wild and still-life floral studies and landscape views and dedicated it to her dear young friend Elspeth “Elsie” Mary Rattle. (1886-1981) Although the relationship remains unclear, Rattle was born in Illinois after Hood had already been living there for over ten years, (in Oak Park, a Chicago suburb) with Elsie later graduating from Wellesley College in 1910. Later, Rattle moved to Colorado where she eventually became a social worker with the Denver Department of Public Welfare. The album is now held in the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University.
Several of the six cyanotypes held by PhotoSeed are variants from studies contained within this 1908 album. Floral studies similar to these by Hood first appeared in the 1905 volume: The Story of Estes Park …and… A Guide Book by Enos A. Mills. Included are two photographs credited to Mrs. Irene Jerome Hood: Mariposa Lilies in Estes Park, p. 90; and Fringed Blue Gentians by Long’s Peak Inn. p. 92.
Irene Elizabeth Jerome Hood: Biographies & Background
By 1888, the artist Irene Elizabeth Jerome had already merited an entry in Appleton’s Cyclopædia of American Biography, Volume 3:
JEROME. lrene Elizabeth, artist. b. in Ellicottville, N. Y., 9 June, 1858. She is a daughter of the Rev. Charles Jerome, was educated in Clinton and Cazenovia seminaries, and in 1875 removed to Chicago,where she spent three months in drawing from casts in the Academy of design. With the exception of this, and a few lessons from teachers outside the academy, she is self-taught in art. In 1882 she exhibited eighteen sketches of Colorado scenery, which were received with much favor. She also illustrated and arranged “One Year’s Sketch-Book” (Boston, 1885); “The Message of the Blue-Bird” (1886); “ Nature’s Hallelujah (1887); and “ A Bunch of Violets” (1887). (p. 430)
Yale University provides us with a further entry filling out other key dates:
Irene Elizabeth Jerome Hood (1858-1945) was an artist and photographer. She was born in Ellicottville, New York, to Charles Jerome (1815-1873) and Elizabeth Reed Jerome (1825-1858). In 1887, she married attorney Thomas H. Hood (1856-1946). She died in Colorado. (1.)
Additional insight into Hood’s life is outlined by author Thomas K. Maher, who wrote the text for a 2012 auction catalogue documenting the sale of Jerome family furnishings:
Irene Jerome Hood, sister of John L. Jerome, deserves special recognition for her role in preserving a visual record of La Hacienda, the family and its environs. Irene married Thomas L. Hood in 1887 and they lived in Oak Park, Illinois in a residence they called “Red Top.” Irene attended the Academy of Design in Chicago and, in 1892, she and her husband moved to Denver to be closer to her brother and his children. Irene painted watercolors at La Hacienda of the interior of the residence and the surrounding area and took photographs of the home, the Jerome children, wildflowers and the surrounding mountains. One of her favorite subjects was John L. Jerome’s daughter Elizabeth. Elizabeth Jerome married attorney and law professor Richard H. Hart, and they and their children spent summers with Irene Jerome Hood at La Hacienda until Irene’s death in 1945. (2.)
Specializing in nature scenes, Irene E. Jerome’s talents as an artist and illuminator were included in the following volume titles, published under her maiden name as listed in WorldCat by year:
1885-86: One Year’s Sketch-Book
1886: The Message of the Bluebird: Told to me Tell to Others
1887: Nature’s Hallelujah
1888: A Bunch of Violets
- Stories and pictures of animals. Standard II
1889: One Year’s Sketch Book
1890: From an Old Love Letter
-In a Fair Country
1892: One Year’s Sketch Book: (4 books for each season)
1893: I Have Called you Friends
- Sun Prints in Sky Tints: Original Designs with Appropriate Selection
print notes recto: signed in graphite on lower left corner of primary mount:
Another version of this plant titled Flowering cacti is included in the Irene Hood cyanotype album at Yale.
1. courtesy ArchiveGrid: from Yale University
2. See: La Hacienda: The John L. Jerome Collection | Family Residence designed by Frederick Sterner with Furnishings by Gustav Stickley ca. 1902. (John Toomey Gallery, Oak Park, IL: May 20, 2012.) Further reading: Georgianna Contiguglia, “Genteel Artist: Irene Jerome Hood Captures Images of Her Life and Family,” Colorado Heritage 1 (1982): 79–102.