Tuesday, February 02, 2010

keeping my skates sharp

Last spring, I bought some framed pictures at the Salvation Army for $1 each. I discarded or crafted most of the pictures, keeping only the frames--except this one.

A crowd of colourfully dressed mid-nineteenth century skaters was too good to throw away. There's so much going on there. Left foreground, a man chases a young woman who looks alarmed as she skates away. On the right, a man pushes his wife on a sled while a little dog barks. I can count at least four people who have fallen. And all around, scarves, muffs and all manner of Victorian winter dress abound.

It was printed in 1862 by Currier & Ives, a large New York City printing company that advertised their products as "coloured engravings for the people." An artist would draw the image on the printing stone, the page would be hand-pressed, and according to the Met website, "handed to the industry of women at home who filled in the scenes with watercolors." Pretty romantic. 

I stored it away, and after returning home to a Canadian winter after a long trip, amidst all the unpacking and setting up life again, I set it on the mantle. It's been there ever since, a reminder that a winter day is not a wasted day.

1 comment:

andyjohnson said...

I like the communist undertones conjured up by the words "coloured engravings for the people." All people are entitled to coloured engravings, after all, not just those bourgeois bastards.