The Beatrice Tonnesen entry in Wikipedia was modified to include a link to the eBook The Secret Source – Beatrice Tonnesen and the Calendar Art of The Golden Age of Illustration
During the 1920′s, famed calendar artist R. Atkinson Fox (1860-1935) shared Beatrice Tonnesen’s Chicago studio. Fox is known to have painted from some of Tonnesen’s photos, and a photo found at the Winneconne (WI) Historical Society appears to be a companion to the source photo for Fox’s “The Children’s Hour”, which is signed with Fox’s pseudonym “DeForest.”
Around 1923, Tonnesen created a photo portraying a beautiful young mother reading to her two children. The scene went on to become an unsigned calendar print titled “The Morning Lesson.” “The Children’s Hour” is a variation on “The Morning Lesson” – same people, same clothing, same theme – only a different placement of the people in the room and different coloring and illustrated backgrounds. So it’s likely that both source photos were the products of the same photo shoot.
Even without seeing the Winneconne photo, it is clear that “The Children’s Hour” originated in Tonnesen’s studio. The chair and rug appear often in photos confirmed to be by Tonnesen. The accompanying slideshow features “The Children’s Hour”, in which “Mom” sits in the middle, between the children, followed by the original photo found at Winneconne, in which “Mom” sits on the left, and “The Morning Lesson,” which came from the Winneconne photo, and may or may not have been illustrated by R. Atkinson Fox. Other prints by R.A. Fox that are known to have originated as photos by Tonnesen are “The Barefoot Boy” (See Album 1 in the catalog) and “The Glory of Youth” (Use the search box on the right side of this page.)
Copyright 2014 Lois Emerson
[Click on each image for a larger version.]
Chicago Daily Tribune archives have been very helpful in my efforts to find and identify the people who modeled for Beatrice Tonnesen’s photographic art. Using the search term “child model,” I recently discovered Lucille Ricksen (1910-1925), a Chicago-born model/actress who moved to Los Angeles in 1920, began playing adult parts around 1923, and died shockingly in 1925. A Google search on “Lucille Ricksen” yielded scores of sites that feature her biography, her photos or both. Some of the early photos of Lucille reminded me of a child I’d seen in an image by Tonnesen, so I dug a little deeper.
From online sources, primarily Wikipedia, I learned that Lucille was born Ingeborg Myrtle Elisabeth Ericksen, to Samuel and Ingeborg Ericksen in Chicago in 1910. Reportedly, she began modeling at age 4, joining the Chicago-based Essanay (silent film) Studio at around age 5 and, at some point, changing her name to Lucille Ricksen. Essanay began to shift production to California during the 1910′s, and Lucille’s mother took her to Los Angeles in 1920, where she worked in movies produced by Samuel Goldwyn, later Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and others. Wikipedia lists 36 films, some of them shorts, in which Lucille appeared in the five years between her arrival in Hollywood and her death there in March of 1925. Several months before her death, Lucille became too ill to work and was ordered to bed by her doctor. Her mother, who maintained a vigil by her bedside, collapsed and died in Lucille’s arms, only weeks before Lucille herself died! The most frequently reported cause of Lucille’s death was tuberculosis, but other sources suggest overwork and/or complications from an abortion.
Continue reading “Was this Tragic Silent Film Star a Tonnesen Model?” »
In the days before air conditioning became commonplace, cardboard hand fans were often the best way to stay cool on a hot day. Decidedly useful, they were attractive and informative, as well. A lot has been written about the “calendar art” of the Golden Age of Illustration. Here on our blog, we’ve been focusing on the period roughly between 1900 and 1930, and the role Beatrice Tonnesen played. But it struck me recently that we have been so interested in presenting the art itself, that we’ve said little about the fact that what we call “calendar art” is really so much more. Most of the publishers of the era produced a whole line of advertising items in addition to calendars. Many of the paintings and photographs that were printed and offered to advertisers on calendars, were also available on blotters, trade cards and, perhaps most notably, on hand fans.
Continue reading “Advertising Fans: Popular Collectibles Feature Art by Tonnesen” »
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As detailed in my e-book, The Secret Source, Beatrice Tonnesen appears to have produced little, if any, new calendar art between around 1904, when she abruptly closed the Tonnesen Sisters Studio on Michigan Avenue, and around 1913, when she opened the new Tonnesen Studio on West Chicago Avenue. So imagine my surprise when I found the provocative “Olive” (included), complete with a glowing writeup, inside the Thomas D. Murphy Company’s book of calendar art samples for 1910. Copyrighted by TDM in 1908, the photo print, which occupies an entire double-page spread in the book, was offered only as a black and white, 8 X 10.5 inch image on a super-sized (14 X 22 inch) roll-up calendar.
Continue reading “Meet “Olive” – Tonnesen’s Surprisingly Racy 1910 Calendar Girl” »