Happy Galentine's Day, ladies! Today's photograph offers a quick glimpse into female companionship of years past. This undated photographic negative (ca. 1917?) shows the watercolorist and porcelain painter, Martha Culbertson Schoonover (1880-1965), and two other women. Martha's husband, and the likely photographer that captured this moment of companionship, was Frank E. Schoonover (1877-1972), a prolific commercial illustrator and artist.
Frank was also an avid photographer whose many photographs were frequently taken for use as source material for his artwork. While Hagley Library's collection of Frank E. Schoonover negatives (Accession 2017.239) contains many photographs of domestic scenes like this one, documenting the life of friends and family, he was better known for his illustrations of grand adventures and larger than life figures, and he maintained that artists’ output should be informed by lived experience.
As a result, his career was shaped around experiencing and making use of the landscapes and peoples depicted in his work. His expeditions included a 1905 visit to live within the boundaries of the Blackfoot Confederacy contained within Montana and Alberta, a 1911 journey to the Hudson Bay Company's outposts along the Great Lakes to observe Ojibwe people, dog-sledding and snowshoe trips through Alaska and Canada, as well as journeys to Cuba, Europe, and other locales that American readers found adventurous and exotic.
You can view more images from this collection by clicking here.