Sunday, December 13, 2020

Behind the Scene or What's in a Frame

A year ago last summer (2019), I walked into a garage sale in Sappington, Missouri where nothing was marked.  The host said "Everything is for sale".  I noticed a framed print hanging on the wall of the garage and pointed at it and asked if it was.  "Sure. $3," was his answer.

It wasn't a particularly nice frame and the print was deteriorating, but I liked the subject and bought it.

It struck me as a Christmas-y scene, so I hung it up for the season when it rolled around last year, and put it away after.  When I went to get it out this fall to hang it again, I discovered the glass had broken.  My wife bought a cheap frame with the same size glass and I carefully pulled the picture out to reframe.  On the back of the print, I found this.

Transcribed to save your eyes: "This Picture was framed by B.C. Lenz Aug 27/1903, Sappington, Mo."

Also written on it was the following:

"No. 140 - After Wash Day Copyright, 1899 By En & Weiner, NY."

My first thought was to try to identify B. C. Lenz.  I have an subscription, so I turned to it's search engine for answers.  Actually, at first I had to guess a few times at the name before getting a hit: Baldwin C. Lenz, June 6th, 1869 to April 17th, 1946. So Baldwin was 34 years old when he framed the print. He married Emma Heimburger and had 2 children, Flora and Elphie.  He died in Sappington, Missouri and is buried in St. Lucas Cemetery.  You can view his stone here

My next task was to identify the original painting and artist.  B. C. had identified it as "After Wash Day". The only thing I could find close to that name was a painting called "Wash Day", but it clearly wasn't it.  And the title itself didn't make sense given the subject of my print (a man mounted on horse riding toward a cabin.).  "Wash Day" was a popular print of the same era, so maybe Baldwin got confused.  Next I tried searching on "En & Weiner, NY" and discovered the printers "Hallen & Weiner" who were popular producers of chromolithographic prints in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Doing some more Googling on them and "No. 140", I stumbled upon this.  So the title of the paiting is "After the Day" which makes more sense, but I can see how B. C. got confused. The print on the site above had an artist's signature (which mine lacks): "Fetherston".  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to identify the artist any further.

Having solved the mystery (mostly), I wrote my name on the back and that I had reframed it, November 20th, 2020 after purchasing at a garage sale.  I wonder who might find it some day.

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