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The Farmer's Daughter: 1938

The Farmer's Daughter: 1938

Summer 1938. "Daughter of Virgil Thaxton, farmer, near Mechanicsburg, Ohio." Photo by Ben Shahn for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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What a stunning, beautifully composed photograph.

With benefit of the '40 Census

That is most likely Kathleen Thaxton, who would have been about nine in the summer of '38. One sister (Juanita) would have been about 13, and mother Cora would have been about 48. According to a very recent obituary of her youngest sister Helen, Kathleen became Kathleen Dipple. Mother Cora died in 1949 and Father Virgil in 1957, but Helen's obit states that Juanita still lives in Ohio.

[This girl is the older daughter, Juanita. - Dave]

Calling Leonardo

This lovely young lady bears a striking resemblance to the subjects of any of a number of Renaissance portraits, one that the headband heightens remarkably.

Photography was a sideline

for Ben Shahn, who was best known for his painting and lithography, most of it in the social realist style and dealing with left-leaning issues such as the labour movement and immigration. This poster of his will be familiar to many readers.

A familiar look

Reminds me of the "Girl With a Pearl Earring" painting by Vermeer. But it's doubtful these ears are pierced.

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