This photograph tells a story and it is up to the viewer of the photograph to create the story. Not all viewers will create identical stories so the image is more like a Rorschach Test. The stories we originate tell us something about ourselves. Here is my story about this photograph. A young maid prepares to serve tea to the lady of the house. It is a beautiful day, so the  tea is served in the garden and the tables have been set with fine lace tablecloths. The garden is located behind a lovely house in the English countryside. Now, back to reality. The photographer of this image and the location of  his studio is unknown. The identity of the subject is also a mystery.

Published in: on June 20, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What a photo. I would suggest that it is a costume or a theatrical. The costume in question is more indicative of the late 1700s than the card itself would suggest. I’m looking at the fichu on the bodice, the sleeves of the bodice, the way it lays above the skirt, and the cap. I’ve gone through about 10,000 American photos from this era the past 3 years and have never seen such a cap. The foliage is almost sub-tropical, or could be in a conservatory, which is probably where the photo was taken.

    Incredible photo!

    The Pink Flamingo

    • I agree – for a house-maid, she is wearing too much lace and a bouquet of flowers on her dress – no-go’s for serving. Maybe the young lady herself, freshly married and just posing?
      Winged lions are a venetian (italian) tradition.

      • Agree as well – and is the tea service mis-matched? I think we’re looking at the young lady of the house posing, and the glimmer of a smile confirms it.

    • I purchased a picture a few months ago and the two subjects are wearing a similar style cap although not as ornate. http://summertime75.wordpress.com/2010/02/23/american-maids/

      • I looked at your collection of “American Maids”. You have gathered some terrific photographs on this subject. I’m still wondering whether the “Maid Serving Tea in the Garden” is an American image and this particular image is one of those images that leaves me with the perplexing question, “so what’s the real story behind this photograph”?

      • I think that your original comment about this picture is right, as viewers often we don’t know the history behind a photograph and it is up to the viewer to create their own story. I don’t see her as a maid serving tea, the costume is out of place, however it does portray an idyllic image which is enjoyable to look at and gives us something to discuss, the art of a good photographer!!

        Thank you for the comments about my “American maids” there is quite a mix, my other blog is more focused.

  2. That’s a lovely photograph; exquisite lace on the tablecloth.

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