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Miss Cleveland: 1918

Miss Cleveland: 1918

Washington, D.C., circa 1918. In the inimitable stylings of Harris & Ewing: "Cleveland, Esther, Miss. Group." Esther Cleveland at right, daughter of Grover Cleveland, the only presidential child born in the White House. View full size.


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Just say no to Macassar?

It would have made my work easier if they'd actually used the oil! But nevertheless, here they are in color. The larger color version is here.

Might be late 1917

This appears to be a formal pre-wedding portrait of the woman on the left, Marion Cleveland, and her younger sister Esther. Marion's wearing a wedding dress without a veil, which is common for this kind of portrait at this time period. Also, their hairstyles would have been completely out of date by 1918.

Marion Cleveland was married on November 28, 1917. Had the photo been taken after her marriage, she would have been Mrs. William Dell. Before her marriage, however, she would have been referred to simply as "Miss Cleveland", which may explain the caption: Miss Cleveland and Esther Cleveland.

I suspect the photograph was not taken on the day of the wedding, as the ceremony was held in Princeton. That again would have been very common in this time period - pre-wedding photos would be taken days or weeks in advance.

The Trolley Problem

Esther's daughter was the philosopher, Philipa Foot, the originator of the trolley problem - should you throw the switch and kill the innocent pedestrian but save everyone on the trolley?

Oil painting

This reminds me of a Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema painting.

now that's class

...both of the dresses are absolutely beautiful!

Not crochet

That topmost pillow sham is actually Battenburg lace, made by cutting fabric (usually cotton muslin) into intricate shapes and filling the gaps with linen braid. It's nothing like crochet, and requires different skills and tools.

Also, most antimacassars in the age of macassar oil were of thick woven fabric embellished with embroidery. Lace antimacassars only became more popular after men stopped using the oil - cleaning lace is a real pain in the behind, so why place a lace item where it's expected to get dirty constantly?

The bodice of her dress is also lace; I'm not certain whether it's crocheted, knitted, or woven, but I'd put my money on woven if only due to the gossamer thinness of the fabric. I knit and crochet lace, and it looks to me to be too fine to hand-produce.

Could that possibly be

an antimacassar protecting those pillows behind her? I never thought I would have the opportunity to actually use that word.

[Technically it's a crocheted pillow sham. An antimacassar, though also usually crochetted, is in the form of a doily. I can't fault you for trying to use one of my favorite words, though. - tterrace]

[The Cleveland administration was on record as being strongly pro-macassar. -Dave]

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