Girl With Curtains


I was looking through some of my cards and photos this evening and came across this one which I’d put aside. I’d bought it as part of a job-lot of assorted photos – can no longer remember the theme, there usually is one – but hadn’t been impressed as the girl seemed to have an odd expression on her face. Then I realised I’d not even scanned it, so I did that and as I brought it up on the screen I thought “can I at least fix that damage?”

Sometimes a photo looks remarkably different when it’s been restored. Not just the obvious improvement of mending a tear or a bit of fading, but it seems to give it… well… ‘attitude’. And as I worked on this photos, the girl’s attitude changed. I’m just not sure to what!

What do you think? I’m wondering if she might have normally worn glasses and perhaps couldn’t quite focus, or if the photographer surprised her with the moment he took the photo.

As you can see, I’ve added to the mystery by doing two version. I’ve left her clothes the same in both, but have changed the colour of the curtains. I’m not sure which I prefer, which do you like better?

43 thoughts on “Girl With Curtains

    1. Thanks, I’ll watch it later. I know you’re posting it for me to show the fashions of the period but would you believe I’ve never seen Downton Abbey? Not really my cup of tea despite the historic interest. 🙂


      1. I did post it because of your interest in period fashions. The speaker is very knowledgeable and entertaining, and I like how she points out how the fashions reflect their historical ad cultural context that produced them. She merely uses the popularity of “Downton Abby” as a means of leading her audience into the fascinating world of fashion and what it has to say about the society it reflects. The “S”curve corset I mentioned (adversely) changed a woman’s posture and affected the way she stood and moved. I could go with this lady’s expression reflecting her opinion of society’s dictate that she wear such a restrictive and almost punitive garment practically every waking moment –!

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        1. It’s curious that you mention about her restrictive garment, because it always makes me think of the suffragettes and their hobble-skirts, and I just wonder if at the time their fashions didn’t seem as restrictive to them as they would to us? While a different generation, my mother used to wear pencil-skirts in her younger days, which I could never walk in, yet she didn’t bat an eyelid. Is it, perhaps, just what we become used to?


    1. Yes, it’s because it’s faded. I’ve been trying to work out how it got the fading like that and all I can think is that someone must have stored it with other photos on top at an angle, so light upon it did a sort of ‘layering’ thing.

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  1. I like her personality coming through, she looks like a teacher with that mono eyebrow glare. The blue curtains bring out her brown eyes but dont in my opinion do much for the khaki skirt!
    How do you know she had brown eyes? Darker blue would make her look even more piercing…

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    1. Yes, I’d wondered if she was a teacher (or a prefect!) I chose the blue curtains, not so much to bring out the colour in her skirt but for an entirely different reason… I realised that my colouring is heavy in the red/green range and that anyone with red/green colour blindness wouldn’t see any effect… so, I put in soe blue. (That said, the blue might not be pure enough to make much difference).
      I’ve no idea what colour her eyes were (or her hair, or the tone of her skin, etc), it’s just a choice really. x


  2. It’s a very odd expression, and I can’t put my finger on it. Perhaps she’s just remembered there’s an outstanding warrant in this country, probably for war crimes at her old prison camp, and she shouldn’t be having her picture taken. Or maybe trying very hard not to sneeze. I like the blue curtains, but the brown ones go better with her expression.

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  3. Another fantastic job, Val, the colour really brings this image to life! I thought I would prefer the blue curtains but when I enlarged it the brown curtains seemed a better ‘fit’… as for her expression, I’m not sure? It’s as if she’s keeping a secret. And does she have a slight squint in her right eye?

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  4. For myself, I like the blue, but I think the brown suits the photo better. She does have a bit of a Madwoman of Chaillot look about her, but when I enlarged the photo, I noticed something. It’s not just that her expression is strange, her eyes don’t seem to be tracking together. She seems a little cross-eyed, perhaps. And look at the hand that’s at her side. At first I thought the fingers simply were hidden by the position of her hand, but the more I looked, the more I wondered if she might have injured it, or had a birth defect. It just doesn’t look quite right, somehow, especially around the wrist.

    It’s hard to say, but if she had some challenges like that, it might go some way to explaining her somewhat stilted pose in front of the camera.

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    1. I’m fascinated by the different interpretations of this photo, thanks for yours, too! I think the hand that’s beside her is probably holding something. I had a good look at the original photo earlier and her fingers are very slightly apart like there’s something loosely in her hand – I think, also, there’s a ring, so she’s probably married. Her wrist looks puffy. It may be that she’s wearing a corset (almost certainly is) so perhaps she’s overweight and it just doesn’t show in the usual places. But as you say, she probably has some health challenges that make her feel awkward in front of the camera.

      One of the other photos that I bought at the same time has a young woman who also has a strange expression, rather a ‘deer in the headlights’. I hope to post it in the near future.

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    1. Yes, I think the general consensus of opinion is that the brown is more suited to the period (isn’t it strange, I think we’re just so used to associating sepia with the period! That said, I remember in England in the 1950s, a lot of decor left over from earlier times – Victorian, Edwardian – and there was a lot of brown (and dark green). She’s definitely reacting to something!

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  5. You have done a terrific job on both of them Val, but I prefer the brown one which looks a more calmer colour to me, not so vivid and loud. I will be asking you to restore a couple of my favourite black and white old family photo’s sometime in the future. I just have to decide which ones are my ‘favourites’

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  6. What a fabulous blog and such an interesting subject too! I love old photos and postcards and I’m always wondering who the people are and what their lives were like. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and for the follow. I am just about to follow you too!

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