Feb 15 2012: Autographed Monochrome Studio Portrait of a Nottingham Woman (1940)

The photograph here is a portrait of a woman only identifiable by her first name, Pat, as taken by Vera Richards in Nottingham: that is, assuming the small embossed name pressed into one corner of the paper refers to the photographer and/or studio, as I assume it does. The same corner has a faded inscription, partially overwritten across that embossed mark, and mostly legible (if not entirely clearly) from the imprint of the pen, as revealed when the photograph’s surface is tilted towards the light. It reads, so far as I can decipher it: “To Freda, all love and wishes and lots of love, Love, Pat, 1940”. The portrait itself duplicates the standard Hollywood Studio look of the day, with soft focus and strong shadows deployed to highlight the face and accentuate its features. But for all that, the question of who Pat was, or why she was sending such an effusively (and is the inscription as effusive as it appears? Are those repeated ‘loves’ a by-product of haste and carelessness or an underwriting of actual feeling?) signed photograph to Freda (whose second name is also missing) in the early years of the Second World War, must remain something of a mystery.

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