To Ellen

This blog is made to the honor of my grandmother Ellen Elisabeth Thomsen who was a modern woman .
She was born in Randers in Denmark 1895 and died in Copenhagen 1976.
She had long salmon red hair down to her hips. It was braided and put up with lots of hairpins to make it look short.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ellen unbraided her long red hair in the evening and then I brushed it for her.

William Paxton

The Blog starts with this picture of William Paxton
I chose this picture because it is so similar to my strongest memory , where I was allowed to brush, my at that time 75-80 year old grandmother's unusual hair.She would go to her desk between the two large windows and stand in front of a huge mirror . There she released the hair needles and unfolded one or two long braids. The hair was straight and so long that it past her behind and she could sit on it.
And then she very carefully and slowly brushed or combed the long hair . If I was visiting her , she let me do it. Every morning she braided it into one or two thin long braids and fixed them to the head with needles, so flat that it was hard to tell if she actually had short hair.
The hair was also unusual because of the color. All normal old people have white or grey hair in this age , but her hair was pale orange pink  almost the same color as boiled salmon.

So this picture of Paxton  could have been my grandmother Ellen , as I remember her
in the evening  in a  white nightgown. Not a fluffy nightgown  like this woman wears,
Ellen's was made in stiff white linen with white embroideries.
It went all the way to her angles.
I have never seen anyone with the same red hair tone,
In her youth it must have been dark copper colored ,  darker even than this woman's.

Ellen had almost the same  mahogany furniture as in the Picture, which her father carpenter Christian Thomsen had made. Her table was in a wonderful slim legged Jugend style.
 The table looked as if it any time could run away like a tall legged Caravan hound.
Danish Jugend furniture is not  very ornamented  like in  the German, Hungarian and English furniture from this period. Danish 1910-20 furniture kept the strong Empire style 
with a minimum decoration of flowers or ornament.
When I visited my grandmother I never really noticed how strongly the Jugend style had influenced her taste and the choice of things she fell in love with.  I never thought about the fact, that she  red hair must have made her special in those times, where many Painters whose red haired models for their paintings. 
The red hair became a symbol of the free independent woman .
Perhaps my grandfather who was a Photographer noticed and  fell in love with this strong independent woman, because of her red hair and sweet face.

   Eugene Grasset
Eugene Grasset  a Swiss artist born in Lausanne 25 May 1845 – 23 October 1917
painted  many pictures of red haired women.
This picture with a young woman studying  flowers and carrying a sketch book reminds me,
that Ellen liked to draw. I scanned her
old sketch book and added two of her drawings to this blog.
So everyone can see what a 11-12 year old child would draw in 1906

Ellen Thomsen  1906

Ellen Thomsen's sketch

Eugene Grasset

I wonder if it was the Artists who changed the opinion of what could be use of colors in clothing. All pictures of my grandmothers parents ,show the women in  black dresses, only  decorated by black laces or an intricate pattern of small folds in the material. They did not wear strong colors or clothes made of material that had patterns . This very modest way of using single colored clothes  is still eminent in Danish taste.
In Denmark today people in daily use wear same color or just a shade darker or lighter on  blouse or sweater  than what is the color of the pants or skirt.
I also prefer this, which my sons find extremely ugly and say now mum you look like a  Teletubbie : You look like Laa-Laa or Tinky Winky! 
  When I wear only white they call me Mumin troll.If I wear green I look like the awful Grinch

So the next picture is  choking with it's overwhelming amount of patterns.

Thomas Cooper Gotch
Child  enthroned  

Notice the different patterns that are shown towards each other.
All this new materials with flowers and strong colors must have seemed like something
so alive ,wonderful and tempting for this generation .
Remember  the parents of this generation wore only white, 
grey or black clothes, and if lucky they had a dark green 
or brown scarf in silk or wool  to cover the shoulders.
Every area of the Danish country side had it's special folk dresses. Some were very colorful ,but only country people wore this and at certain occasions. In towns women wore a skirt and blouse in the same color.

Typical Danish folks costume
The postcard is re bloged from
where it is on sale

Ellens grandmother

This was the typical clothes worn by women in Danish towns in the 1880 ties, 
one color on the top and same on the skirt. 
So the wonderful fantasy of Jugend Artists must have captured the young women 
and have changed their outfits.



This beautiful woman called Lamia  by J.W.Waterhouse had hair that was long like my grandmothers.
Waterhouse painted the same woman in many pictures.


        Here in "The soul of the rose" by J.W.Waterhouse she wears a wonderful long coat covering another pink dress perhaps the same as in the picture above. 
Artists would have several robes available to dress their models in.

J.W. Waterhouse

Psyche by Waterhouse again he used the same pink dress as in the two pictures above. To combine pink  clothes or background with red hair gives a certain glow to the hair. Many artists are tempted to use this combination of 2 reddish colors, one cold and the other warm.

 Eugene von Blass

Also Eugen von Blass uses this combination here as  Pink roses in the  clothes to spice the orange-brown hair, but the overall feeling is pink even if he used so little.

Albert Herther

Here is Herther  with one of the most beautiful pictures I know. There is nothing
sweet, romantic or vulgar about it , no roses or chiffon that blow in the air, no sexuality or flirting !
 You feel the air around the woman,  the colors are kept in  few tones .And still You
do not feel any color is missing! Look how he managed to make the
dark orange hair glow clean without using one gram of blue to contrast .
Grey is his secret ingredient!
A noble posture almost Egyptian in it's stiffness.
Simple and so very elegant! Whistler used the same position for the portrait
of his mother, but in whole figure. The picture is a mix between Empire style with it's
Egyptian fascination and Jugend style with the flower patterns all over.
I like that this model is an ordinary beauty not specially pretty, he painted her so
delicate .This picture  is a masterpiece!

Lucian Levy Dhormer

Eve by Lucian Levy Dhormer . Notice the snake!   Which she smilingly is going to caress any minute.
The blue color of the leaves almost turn the red hair into red .If he had painted them green, the hair would shine more yellow


 I do not know who painted this wonderful picture. And I forgot where I found it.

Felice Casorati

This picture is one of  Felice Casorati's best. He was an
Italian  artist born in Novara 1883-1963
Perhaps the girls hair is counted as Hazel colored, but  to me it looks like dark copper red .
I love this  picture so much .  I had to add it!
It reminds me of seemingly endless days on my grandmothers carpet.
There were not much to play with and following the sun-rays moving
the windows over the carpet and looking at the dust dancing  30 cm above,
was what I was occupied with for hours between the meals.
Those irritating stockings one had to wear in the sixties, mine
were of wool and scratched almost like rose hip seeds.
That reminds me,  my grandmother Ellen knitted woolen underwear for me
it was torture to wear it!!!


Seated girl of Casorati
Beautiful portrait ,but he could have used an extra 10 cm canvas to get the feet inside ! 
I will bring other Pictures of Casorati  in future blogs .He painted several pictures with Redheads.

 But of all painters in this period Rossetti is probably the most famous.

D.G Rossetti
Lady Lilith brushing her hair

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Who doesn't know him and all his wonderful paintings of swan necked women
I will bring many of his pictures in coming posts.What attracts me mostly in this picture her skin and
The pale eyelashes which hang over the eyes and make a drowsy impression.

I love the pale turquoise skin of some red haired people. My niece Anna has pale bluish almost violet skin.
her orange freckles dances and glows like small lamps on that background.
 I was red blond as a child and my hair would look red,  if I wore certain colors ,
but it became beige brown colored  with others.
 My skin in the face is pale and pink and get many brown freckles in the summer, the skin on the rest of my body is yellowish brown and get full of freckles which are a bit darker and glow into big spots if I am too much in the sun.  My grandmother Ellen had very pale skin and many freckles in pale ocher or sienna tones .Wonder why almost all  painters avoided painting red haired peoples freckles?  
These spots are so amazing , some red haired people are dotted all over and glow
like the sky above  the Scandinavian bonfire of St.Hans .
When I studied at the Academy of fine Art in Stockholm one of my fellow students the extremely talented  Angelika Kristenson  hypnotized me with her orange hair and millions of  freckles.
 I could not look enough at her and would stare until she got irritated.
She eventually got furious with me!
I still think of her color vice as the most beautiful girl I have ever seen in my entire life.

 I have only one photograph of Angelica from around 1984, 

Angelika Kristenson
Isn't she adorable unfortunately did  my camera back then, not have enough pixels to captivate her
freckles. I made several sketches of her

Pia Ranslet

 Angelica drawn some time in the early 80 ties, I have not been in contact with her since then.

Angelika Kristenson Aurelius
Portrait of Jenny

Angelika's Art is  shown  between many places, this I found  in  Saatchi's homepage. On the Academy she was one of us few, who lived day and night in our workshops. She would chose a famous painting and compose a new , using the same color scale. A way of inspiring that also was taught at 
Slade school of Art in London.

Pia Ranslet
Portrait of Anna with Crane-bill flowers in her hair

Anna Ranslet my beautiful red haired niece .
 Every year I try to paint a new picture of her. This one is painted with  Acrylics

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