Old Woman Seated before Window

Old Woman Seated before Window

This contemplative study of an elderly woman seated before a window may be the work of an affiliate member of the Newark, Ohio Camera Club as it was originally sold via auction in 2016 by an auction house in that city. The listing attributed this work to Camera Club founder Clarence H. White, (1871-1925) although this archive has researched extensively and does not locate the image in any known published sources at this time.

 An Intriquing Possibility- A Lost Work?


At first glance it might appear the subject is reading a book that has been placed on her lap, although on closer inspection it might actually be some type of container. In 1902, Clarence White undertook a commission to illustrate the popular novel Eben Holden which contains several photogravure plates featuring an elderly woman model wearing a dark, long-sleeve, polka-dotted printed dress bearing a strong resemblance to the one worn by this model. Although the two models are noticeably different: this model’s hair is swept back and gathered in a bun on the back of her head versus the other whose hair is parted differently and gathered in a bun on top, the dresses worn by the two appear very similar. To wit:

In the Eben Holden plate, “How much was that a yard ?“, the photographer’s mother, Phoebe Billman White, (1845-1920) bends over to inspect  a dress worn by model  Ann Fulton.  Alternately, a similar looking but different elderly woman model (1.) is seated alone-offset in the composition like here with a window in the background in the plate “Mother was living in the old home, alone.” Stylistically, with these compositional points in mind, it may be possible this work was an outtake from the Eben Holden commission, although more definitive proof would be required. We solicit your input and thoughts!

Title of work assigned by this archive.

1. As identified in the volume Clarence H. White And His World: The Art & Craft of Photography, 1895-1925, the elderly woman model is the mother of Granville, OH artist William Herbert Lisle (1869-1947), her name tentatively identified by this website as being Mary Jane Shoal Lisle:  1830-1912.

Old Woman Seated before Window

Image Dimensions34.4 x 23.8 cm possibly a toned platinum or palladium print

Support Dimensionsunmounted