Young woman with brush in Emporia, Kansas

This enigmatic portrait was made by career photographer Stephen H. Waite (1836-1906).  My eyes were first drawn to the large brush in the woman’s hand, then quickly moved to the striking brooch which may have served to clasp her beautiful coat.  Another fine garment is draped over the chair, possibly a cloak.

Was she an artist?  Could the brush have served another purpose?

 

Woman with brush in Emporia 2b

It may be irrelevant to the discussion, but I should mention that I bought the cabinet card from a dealer in England.  The young woman could have given it to a British friend, or could even have been from Britain herself.  That said, it’s entirely possible that the photo was purchased by a collector in Britain sometime in the past 115+ years and that I simply repatriated it.

Emporia is home to Emporia State University, established in 1863 as the Kansas State Normal School.  According to a page at Emporia State University Special Collections and Archives, Stephen H. Waite (1836-1906) worked as a professional photographer in that town for 21 years, retiring about 1902.

Woman with brush in Emporia 3

 

5 thoughts on “Young woman with brush in Emporia, Kansas

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  1. Her outfit, being so loose fitting, definitely looks like an artist’s smock to me. We have a very similar hair comb to the one this lady is wearing (unfortunately broken) that was with my grandmother’s things. I had always assumed she herself had worn it in the 1920s. I think it may have belonged to her mother or grandmother, now. . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You must be right about the smock! The loose fit made me think it was a coat, but it’s really not heavy enough to be an outer garment. Perhaps she went to England to pursue her art studies and had this portrait made as a kind of declaration of professional intent. She looks determined. I’m going to see if there’s any possibility of identifying her.

      That’s so nice that you have a hair comb that may have belonged to your great-grandmother or even her mother. Few things stay with families that long. Something to treasure!

      Like

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