June 10, 2016

PHOTOGRAPH AT BELLE ISLE BY A. M. KNECHTEL, CIRCA EARLY 1900s


From the looks of this photograph by A. M. Knechtel this is just another day out at Belle Isle. But when looking closer there are some remarkable things going on here:


Namely, Sweet Mama Cucumber Eyes. Or are those bifocals gleaming to the power of le Soleil? We shall never know but those hats are supreme emblems of a long gone age.


And as for Mustachio, You and I, they are surely bemused to be ghosts and the subject of my ignorant prattling. Again, yer hats win the day.

The children, as per usual for antique pictures, look like cast members from the Children of the Corn.


And the turned heads surely must be some photographer's aesthetic because it appears out of turn with propriety. But Oh, Lawd, them hats!


But the most interesting thing about this photograph--besides the architecture which I am absolutely ignorant of--is the phantom image on the back of the card stock. Not a phantom per se but the foxing residue of one photograph's chemicals seeping into the other. Although this appears almost intentional I'm guessing that it was a perfect accident despite the sharpness of the figure's outlines.


As for the photographer A. M. Knechtel: obviously he worked out of a building at 1199 Jefferson Avenue. I've found two instances of his photos online. Both are undated and viewable on the Detroit Public Library's Digital Collection webpage.

One is of the William F. Case family also taken at Belle Isle:


As for dating it, I can only guess the early 1900s or late 1800s but I might be way off.

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