Picturing Dorothy Images 1909-1912

Mar 3, 2001
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Wow. Randy, I absolutely loved this information on Dorothy and can't wait until the publication! Dorothy is certainly an interesting character. Thanks so much for the 'sneak peak'
 
May 12, 2005
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Thanks for the enthusiasm, Amanda. At least one person will be buying the book!
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I'm pretty weighted down with the writing at this point, the project being much larger than I'd envisioned, and with a deadline that is pretty tight. Otherwise, I would make a pitch for specific Titanic information and images that are needed. As it is, I must wait for the project editor Jennifer Mills, a former colleague of mine, to address this on the message board in the next few days. I know that she'll also be asking a few questions that have dogged us regarding people in Lifeboat 7 and the crew responsible for its launching. She will also be e-mailing a number of members personally with questions and requests for help.

Right now, I've been awake for 22 hours! This was supposed to be a small project but I have ended up with an assignment to basically write a book in a month's time!!

Randy
 

Vicki Logan

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May 15, 2003
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Hey Randy,
I know you will be able to count on lots more than one person to buy the book! Let me know where we can purchase and we will be in line.
Take care and get some sleep!
Vicki
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Randy, please count me in as a prospective customer too. Looks like your going for the varsity squad of the Titanic Community to help you out. With that and your own research, I'm sure it's going to be a "must have."
 
May 12, 2005
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Just to follow up here on some old questions and comments from above posts.

Brian Aherne asked how much money Dorothy Gibson made as a model. I didn’t know at the time but I have some idea now. To judge from what other models of Harrison Fisher were making at the time she worked for him, she made something in the neighborhood of $30 to $75 a sitting. During most of the time that she was modeling she also worked in the theatre, making at one point $53 a week as a chorus girl in a Shubert Brothers musical. I’m not sure what she made when she first went into films, for Lubin and later IMP studios. She was then appearing only as an extra or supporting player, so her salary would not have been impressive. But when she was hired by Éclair American as the studio’s leading lady, she made $120 a week, which apparently surpasses what Mary Pickford was making at that time!

Regarding some of the Fisher illustrations I posted above, Jennifer Mills and I want to confirm that the images named "The Rose" and "Behave" are NOT of Dorothy Gibson but of Margery Allwork, Fisher’s most prolific model. Sadly Miss Allwork did not have as good a press agent as Dorothy because if any woman was "The Original Harrison Fisher Girl," it would have been she and not Dorothy, although the latter sat for some of the artist’s most popular works.

We are weeks away from seeing our book on Dorothy hit the press so I am looking forward to that. We hope this biography will become an important source for collectors of Fisher art prints as well as for silent movie buffs. A large portion of the book is naturally devoted to the Titanic with some new and hopefully entertaining tidbits. Of course, those interested in spy stories sure won’t be let down!
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>judge from what other models of Harrison Fisher were making at the time she worked for him, she made something in the neighborhood of $30 to $75 a sitting.<<

Not a bad showing for that day and age. While it doesn't approach what models make now even in equivalant 21st Century dollars, for a lot of people then, that was a months wages. Any idea when this book will become available for purchase?
 
Dec 31, 2003
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Hello Kyrila and Randy! A nagging long-term suspicion and a half-formed thought of mine re-surfaced a few minutes ago, and has just been discussed with a friend; the illustrator Roger J L Payne, whose mentor was Matania. I'm rather excited to tell you both first! The tinted photograph (dated 1911) which I e-mailed to you almost a year ago, is - we now believe - one of the same series of which Randy has shown us one: "Dorothy Gibson taken in 1911 at the time of her start in films for the Eclair company." I had titled the jpeg 'TitanHat'!
 
May 12, 2005
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Hi, Kyrila and Donald:

Kyrila I will make sure you get a complimentary copy. You deserve it after surviving your own hurricane disaster of late.

And Don, although I recall the image you sent, I can’t find it. It did not strike me as Dorothy but I was not nearly so accustomed to identifying her as I am now, having found so many new photos. Can you re-send the picture? If it’s old Dot, I would love to use it for the book, if you’re agreeable. Which means you also get a free copy!

(Hmmm… I don’t think I’m going to make much money out of this! )
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Kyrila Scully

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Apr 15, 2001
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Now, Randy, you don't have to do that!!! You certainly won't make much money this way - but then I know how that is, having probably broke even on my own book, if not a little bit of a loss. LOL

Kyrila
 

David marbeck

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Aug 22, 2004
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im sorry to sound well.....ummm...rude!!!!! But the photos of Dorothy in my mind look quite different to the portraits drawn of her. Why is that? if i didnt know better i would swear that it was a totally different person! Not even a relative~!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Also, the works shown on this page were not intended to be portraits. Commercial artists are often commissioned to create idealised artwork for advertisements, calendars, pin-ups or whatever. They use professional models, costumes and props as guides, but the final image will owe at least as much to the artist's imagination and especially to a consideration of what the client wants, which often goes way beyond the limitations of reality.
 
May 12, 2005
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Jim and Bob are correct. Therefore, the identification of Harrison Fisher illustrations of Dorothy Gibson is sometimes arbitrary. In my book I have tried to use only those Fisher images that

A) have documentation to support their identification as Dorothy Gibson
B) have been identified as Dorothy by Fisher experts
Or
C) bear a striking resemblance to Dorothy in my opinion, after comparing photos to the artwork.

Having said that, let me point out that of the last four "unconfirmed" illustrations I posted above, the bottom two have been eliminated. The model for those images ("The Rose" and "Behave") has been identified through published sources as Margery Allwork.

For the others - "Bows Attract Beaus," "Roses," "Mary," "Ready and Waiting" and ""Music Hath Charms" — I have published and unpublished documentation to support that the model was indeed Dorothy Gibson. "Art and Beauty" was eliminated by Fisher expert Jean Collins from the iconography I originally established. Also, "My Queen" has been identified as Dorothy by myself, basing the conclusion on a comparison of photos of her showing her head elevated in the same way and on surviving film footage of her.

Of all the pictures she sat to for Fisher, Dorothy herself recalled only one by name — "Music Hath Charms." Painted at the time of her courtship with her first husband, George H. Battier, it possibly records that romance. She said it was her favorite and that she had kept the hat she wore in it.

In my book, an effort has been made to use photos of Dorothy beside Fisher’s illustrations of her so that readers can better compare her likeness to his idealized painted image. I admit to not totally "getting" Fisher’s interpretation of Dorothy until I saw her in movement. Seeing her face from many different angles, particularly in profile and in the position of the raised mandible that seems to have been a Fisher fetish, really helped me appreciate her looks and how they inspired Fisher to record them.
 

jim voigt

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Apr 24, 2006
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I have what I believe is a rare painting by Harrison Fisher, that has not only his signature on it but he has also signed "Mae Merritt" who of course is Babe Ruth's 2nd wife. Fisher himself painted this we believe in the 20's when his skills as an artist started to decline, it appears to an unfinished painting "Watercolor" of an earlier from 1907, well that was the year of the print anyway. I have tried to find anything that was not a real painting where he double signed it, and I could not. This leaves us to believe it is real and most likely painted it for her as a gift, she did model for Harrison Fisher and Christy as well. Let me know what you think, keep in mind this is unfinished painting and has a lock of shadowing which affects the proportion. Thanks!
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Apr 11, 2001
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Jim, can you post a larger image? I think the size here can be up to 500 scanned at 200 psi- or you can use the oversize image option.
 
May 12, 2005
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Hi, Jim:

Very interesting picture. As you say, this is a well-known 1907-08 Fisher image, but without seeing his signature or being able to examine the quality of the image it would be hard to help you prove it’s an original. Fisher’s work was at a commercial height in the 1910s, and while his popularity may have waned by the mid-20s, his skills did not. He was primarily a magazine cover artist by that time, especially for Cosmopolitan, which featured his women in almost every issue till his death in 1934. His ladies reflect a new ideal of beauty and show new techniques but they were still highly polished.

Why do you think Fisher painted this in the 20s? It doesn’t seem he would have bothered to repaint an out of date image like this for a new commission. But maybe you have more information you can share. If he did paint this, I’m inclined to think he did so at the time of the known published original. Painters always make copies, so he might have done one specifically for Mae Merritt as a gift. Another thought is that this was his preliminary sketch for the final finished painting which would certainly make it valuable.

Best wishes,
Randy
 

jim voigt

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Apr 24, 2006
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Hello thanks for the reply, this was such an old thread not sure anyone would still be on here. For some reason it only lets me upload one photo at a time, anyway here is a pic of the Fisher auto, next post I will put Mae Merrit on.
Randy I have done extensive research into this and have read that both Christy & Fisher's artistic ability were no longer at their peak after 1920 or so. I read this on a Christy site, a library that had inherited a lot of Christy's paintings and sketches. I also have read that he did do Portraits after he finished doing illustrations, particulary for celebraties, social elite, politcal figures and so on.
I know it was done in the 1920's as her maiden name as Hodgson, she married a Frank Merritt for a short time in the early 20's but he died I believe in the mid 20's. So you see that was her first married name, she came to NYC in 1920. SHe also kept her married name "Merritt" until 1929 when she married "The Babe". It is quite possible this was done after 1925 but before she married Babe Ruth. This was not a painting of her, I think in fact it is Dorothy Gibson, but looks like a sketch of his earlier painting he did in 1907 or 06. It does like I say have her name on it, and your right I believe it was a gift to her, I have tried to confirm this but the family is represented by a lawyer who apperently refuses to ask Mae's daughter Julia, as you know he gets nothing out of it. He did want me however, to give it his museum for nothing haha. Anyway I will put on more photos after, thanks so much for responding! Jim.