Woman pretending to do farm work

What it is:

Cabinet card measuring 4.25 x 6.5 inches.

What I know about it:

Photographer is Martin of Chicago, Illinois [“Opposite Marshall Fields”].  Otherwise undated and unidentified.


I’m not quite sure what to make of this one.  Thoughts and suggestions are welcome (as always).  Does this woman actually have some association with a farm?  Is a studio setting like this, taken in downtown Chicago during times of booming industrial growth, intended to convey romantic nostalgia for a rapidly vanishing way of life?  Are we expected to believe that she would wear this dress to go feed the horses?  Is that expression on her face a smirk showing us this is all one big joke?

8 comments on “Woman pretending to do farm work”

  1. Matt, she is holding a wad of what looks like hair. From a sheep I would guess. She looks real sturdy like she might actually do farm work. I think a picture of her from the front ,straight on, might reveal a woman who is perhaps attractive.

    • Hmm, yes I see what you mean that it could be hair from something like a sheep. I was assuming it was a handful of something like dry alfalfa. I know it was not unheard of for people to be photographed in their work clothes holding the tools of their trade, but would this be included in such a category? And yes, I’m sure she’s probably quite charming if her face isn’t at such an odd angle. (This angle was probably intended to be charming, too.)

      • It is absoltuely hair and is very clear, once enlarged. Why its hair, don’t know but it is a studio, although hair in downtown Chicago makes less sense than in a country setting. In her case……..hair today, gone tomorrow.

      • I see what you mean now that you say it. I guess I was thrown off by the fact that she’s surrounded by hay/straw, so I figured she was handling something similar. Perhaps we are to believe she is gathering freshly shorn hair from a long-hair sheep to take in, card, and spin into wool. It’s funny to think of that being a standard prop in an urban photo studio, but it’s equally funny to think of her hauling it in specially for this shoot.

      • Agreed. It almost looks like her hair.

      • Now wouldn’t THAT be an interesting twist! 🙂

  2. It’s the boudior shot of those days!

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