Josephine Knitting (1916)
Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862-1938)
Oil on canvas
Bequest of George M. Oyster, Jr. 24.2
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
This painting, although suggesting the isolation or, perhaps, invisibility, of women, has always had a calming effect on me. I love the light, the related tones, the open doorway and corridor or room beyond. Josephine, unfortunately, is composed of the same tones as the walls and furniture but that also reminds me of how knitters are often largely ignored especially in public. I have knit in public for many years and have found that people often think we knitters are so absorbed in our work that we are not aware of what is going on around us or are even interested in anything but our knitting. A few sensitive observers have said to me, "I hope I am not disturbing you" or "I hope you are not counting" and then ask a question or make a comment. The invisibility factor, however, does sometime buy peace on crowded trains and buses. Think, too, of Miss Marple who quietly knits away, absorbing and collecting clues all of the time, perhaps, also using the steady beat of her needles to sort out in her mind the various suspects and motives in a crime. As for Josephine, I also like the way she is sitting and holding her knitting. She truly looks as though she is knitting unlike many other models in paintings with *knitting* in the title. I choose it for all of those reasons and also because we cannot see the knitting. Just like the readers of this blog. No knitting posted for quite a few weeks. There are a lot of things on the needles and some of them are even approaching completion! Nelson's purse, another purse from his era, the lace handkerchief case and a homespun stocking. A few contemporary projects have also invaded the historical knitting sphere but they will soon be dispatched to their recipients and then I can settle back down in the past.
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