We're back in the stacks this Monday and offering some belated Mother's Day wishes to all the moms out there. This 1943 photographic negative of two unidentified women was taken by Frank E. Schoonover (1877-1972), likely as a reference photograph for an illustration project.
Schoonover, a prolific commercial illustrator and artist, was also an avid photographer whose many photographs were frequently taken for use as source material for his artwork. While the collection contains many images of domestic scenes like this one, 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.
Over the course of a six-decade career, Schoonover completed more than twenty-five hundred works, primarily illustrations for magazines and books but also landscapes, portraits, murals, book plates, sculpture, and stained-glass windows. Hagley Library's collection of Frank E. Schoonover negatives (Accession 2017.239), of which this image is a part, consists of negatives taken by Schoonover, largely for use as source material for his artwork. There are also images of his artwork, restoration projects, and him, his family, and friends. You can view more images from this collection by clicking here.