Mama Snail returned from New York City with a clutch of postcards for me!
From an art show called 3 Generations at Home Studios on Broadway. Work by Dorothy Braudy, Dorothy’s son David Fitzgerald, and David’s son Travis Fitzgerald. Printed for anyone to send, the family has been receiving these postcards for years! I know I’m going to send mine.
Mama Snail also visited an antique shop where she picked out the other postcards she brought back. Coney Island, 1904. Sorry my photo of the photo is too blurry to see it, but the letters on the roof say “Bathing.” On the patio on the right is a sign that says “Chowder 10¢.”In the water, I’d never seen that rope line before. I’m guessing it was so people who didn’t know how to swim could still enjoy the ocean. After all, beach-going was a new phenomenon to the masses, a product of a little more leisure time for the working class. Here’s a similar photo I found through Victoriana Magazine: “Le Boudoir” is the smallest structure in the fairytale village Hameau de la Reine(The Queen’s Hamlet) built for Marie Antoinette on the grounds of the Petit Trianon chateau at Versailles between 1783 and ’87. Here the queen would spend time alone or with one or two friends.
The hameau as a whole served as a private resort, a place to get away from the pressures of court life. Marie Antoinette was becoming rather unpopular publicly, and the expense of building the hamlet did not escape criticism. Neither did the queen’s dressing as a shepherdess there, playing peasant with her ladies in waiting.
“Le Moulin” (The Mill) never functioned as a grain mill, though it did serve as a laundry. The water wheel in the stream was purely aesthetic. Under “Correspondance,” it basically says “no countries accept messages written on the front of the postcard, enquire at the post office.” This dates the postcard to about 1907. Before then, messages had to be written on the front, and only the address was allowed on the back. This was a way of making people pay the higher postage to send a longer letter. But competing with the imagery on the front of a postcard proved impractical, and in the 1910s (exact year varies by country), “divided back” postcards became standard, where the message was limited to the left side of the back, the address to the right. As writing on the back had previously, now writing on the front would go beyond the price of postcard postage, calling for a letter. Funny enough, a good friend of Mama Snail once gave me a birthday card of the same painting!
The two cards agree that Richard Dadd spent nine years on the painting, but their dates of the artist’s lifespan differ. (The postcard says he lived from 1819-1887, while the birthday card says 1817-1896.) The Tate Gallery, where the painting resides, says Dadd lived from 1817-1886, and I’m inclined to side with them.
To quote the Tate’s short bio, “Dadd was regarded as one of the most promising young artists of his generation and was universally liked for his gentleness, intelligence and cheerful good nature.” Then came a fateful ten-month trip through Europe and the Middle East. On a boat traveling up the Nile, his personality changed completely. He became increasingly violent and delusional, believing that he was influenced by the god Osiris. Dadd’s companions hoped it was just sunstroke. But half a year later, he returned to England no better.
After stabbing his father to death, the artist was certified insane. (He probably suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, of which his siblings also had similar symptoms.) Dadd spent the following 42 years in asylums, where he continued to paint. It was in a criminal lunatic asylum that he died of consumption, perhaps explaining the confusion surrounding the year of his death. Example of a pre-divided back postcard from 1906. Miss B. Hardy could have squeezed in a line in the white area on the front if she’d cared to, but the old song seems to have said it all.