Oh, Dear, My Thanksgiving Dinner!

Oh, Dear, My Thanksgiving Dinner!

Bordering on slapstick, this contrived Thanksgiving study by Queens, New York amateur photographer Jeanette Bernard (b. Germany: 1855-1941) is believed to show her adopted daughter Minnie Fennel (b. 1880) in the role of hapless pedestrian.  The misstep, in which ingredients for her Thanksgiving meal are spilled out onto a dirt walkway, including the overturned basket which held items including a plucked chicken or turkey, root vegetables including potatoes, yams, and carrots as well as some apples and an umbrella to the left, is humorous to see on close inspection. This is because a piece of cloth Fennel has been thoughtfully provided for the duration of the photo shoot by Bernard saves Fennel the indignity of actually getting her dress dirty while in the prone position. It makes the process a bit more bearable for the model as the photographer goes through the laborious process of composing the scene of this “action photograph” in order to make it believable to the viewer.

Oh, Dear, My Thanksgiving Dinner! was published in a November, 1907 issue of Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, possibly on Thursday, Nov. 21st as it falls closest to the American holiday of Thanksgiving.

The quality of this photograph also indicates it was most likely made from the original glass plate negative acquired by the Culver picture Service c. 1935-40:

Mrs. Jeanette Bernard, a devoted amateur photographer who, for ten years or more, kept a detailed camera record of her family’s life in their quiet neighborhood in the Borough of Queens shown at left. Mr. D. Jay Culver acquired hundreds of her glass negatives from a dealer in old glass about fifteen years ago- a collection which gives an unsurpassed picture of middle-class life at the turn of the century. Unfortunately he has no record of what street the Bernard’s lived on or who the people in the pictures are. (1.)

print details recto: slight impact tear to lower margin; fading to print

print details verso: in graphite by unknown hand (faint) Oh Dear, My Thanksgiving Dinner; in black pen: Published originally in Leslie’s Ill. Newspaper Nov. 1907; black ink stamp for Culver Service:

205 EAST 42

-double oval CULVER SERVICE sticker printed in red; another CULVER SERVICE stamp which has been covered up.

1.excerpt: Jeanette Bernard biography: in: ‪The Columbia historical portrait of New York‬: ‪an essay in graphic history in honor of the tricentennial of New York City and the bicentennial of Columbia University‬: by John Atlee Kouwenhoven: 1953: Doubleday:  p. 443. For updated biographical details of Jeanette Bernard’s life in Queens, New York, see also:  “Queens’ own pioneer woman photographer“: in: Queens Chronicle, by Chronicle contributor Ron Marzlock: publication date: September 19, 2013. Please also see original vintage example of this photograph in collection of the George Eastman House: GEH 1983:2640:0051

Oh, Dear, My Thanksgiving Dinner!

Image Dimensions15.6 x 20.0 cm

Support Dimensionsunmounted