Please help my mom ID this painting
June 6, 2005 9:07 PM   Subscribe

ArtFilter: My mother remembers this print hanging in her grandfathers house. She's asked her father and aunt about it, but they don't have any information. Image 1 Image 2 She's sure its some mythological story or legend, and its driving her crazy. Any info as to who this woman is, anything about the original painting, anything at all would be a great help. We've searched google for every term we can think of, with no luck.
posted by korej to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Its probably an image of Tyche (Fortuna to the Romans), the goddess of chance and luck. She is often portrayed with a winged wheel (which symbolizes progress as well as the wheel of fortune) and usually a cornucopia (I guess the wheat sheaf in your mother's image is a stand-in). A very popular mythic figure and one especially used in 19th century advertising, the style of which IMO your mother's painting seems to follow...
posted by Chrischris at 9:37 PM on June 6, 2005

I second the secular rendering of "Fortune" from classical antiquity. Earliest mention found in Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, where he describes "Fortune's Wheel".

(The other famous 'wheeled' figure is Sta. Catherine of Alexandria/Siena, but your image bears no resemblance to how she commonly is portrayed.)
posted by naxosaxur at 9:45 PM on June 6, 2005

Looking closer at the image, I'd say that the print is an old beer advertisement (wheat in one hand, hops in the other)--maybe you could contact one of the many many brewerania sites online and someone could identify the brewery of origin for you...
posted by Chrischris at 9:49 PM on June 6, 2005

I'll second Chrischris... a personification of Fortune is likely the best answer you're going to get unless someone chances to ID the specific image. The winged wheel is a common and multidimensional symbol, signifying fortune/chance, change, progress, swift travel, and swift communication.

I know of one specific similar image (not yours), a stained glass window by neoclassic John La Farge "Fortune and Her Wheel," which is in the Frick Building in Pittsburgh (?) if I remember correctly.

This is probably a minor work presenting the same theme. Tough to say what the sheaves of wheat and whatever she's got in her other hand signify.
posted by nanojath at 9:52 PM on June 6, 2005

Hops! Good guess, Chrischris! Thank god there are good people out there pondering the inscrutables of obscure works of art late on Monday night... Mmm, beer and Fortune...
posted by nanojath at 9:54 PM on June 6, 2005

Best answer: HAH! I'm calling this one an add for Bartholomay Brewing Co of Rochester NY!

Compelling Example... (too lazy to code HTML, autolink doesn't work in Safari)

Absolutely wouldn't have gotten there w/out Chrischris. My sense of accomplishment is absurd. Now I can sleep...
posted by nanojath at 9:59 PM on June 6, 2005 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Good call nanojath. Your link looks correct.

Curious. What came first, the advert or the painting?

Also, here is some history on the Bartholomay Company. It appears that the corporation has been renamed a few times and might still exist today as Bartholomay Buttermilk.

Here is a really cool PDF detailing the history of breweries and drinking in Rochester, NY and the nation as a whole. Specific mentions of Bartholomay start on page 10. There are some interesting photos, including a drawing of the Bartholomay production facilities. Looks like they finally stopped brewing thanks to Prohibition, and never came back (converting to dairy, though it did seem to leave one brewery as a descendent).

Death of Sidney Hall in 1901 due to a Boiler Explosion at the brewery.

Sorry, I am obsessed with context, and I find this fascinating.
posted by tweak at 10:31 PM on June 6, 2005

oh and disregard the bit about it still existing.
posted by tweak at 10:31 PM on June 6, 2005

posted by taz at 1:25 AM on June 7, 2005

I was gonna say an ad, but just because of the style. All this other stuff is what makes me feel inadequate. Another one for the MetaTalk thread.
posted by OmieWise at 5:26 AM on June 7, 2005

Response by poster: wow - my mom is thrilled, and you guys have just proven the usefulness of the internet to my great aunt and grandfather (both in their 90s)

thanks so much!
posted by korej at 6:01 PM on June 7, 2005

Well, I'll (ahem) humbly admit I've got a good knack for creating a search phrase. I do have a lot of professional research background prior to my current professional daddy identity, and cut my teeth on things like complex organic synthesis databases when I was a chemistry student, over a decade again now... For me trying to coax an obscure fact out of a very large and generalized pool of information is "fun." Takes all kinds, but it's nice when your weirdo tendencies can help someone out.

But again, it was Chrischris' perceptive insight into the telltale combination of wheat and hops that led me to hashing out the right combination of "beer" and "winged wheel" terms that hit the lucky image. And Tweak rounded it out nicely with all the added context. A pretty cool collective effort!
posted by nanojath at 7:08 PM on June 7, 2005

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