Has anybody seen this photograph? Complication: boobs.
October 24, 2014 3:51 AM   Subscribe

Three or four years ago I saw a photograph in an actual newspaper of a group of wetnurses and babies in an Italian orphanage. There were some rows of buxom young women in uniform, each one seated with a breast out feeding a baby. The young women all wore a kind of nurses cap and oddly, every single one of them had dark curly hair. There was an odd juxtaposition in the picture between the uniformity of the group - and they were pretty smart - and the intimacy of the action. The date must have been 1940's or 30's. Now I've tried googling this picture and while the searches have taken me to some unexpectedly alarming places, I've not found it. The closest I've got, in feeling and structure, is number 3 of 4 here; but this isn't it. So, consulting the diverse and extensive knowledges accumulated here, does anyone know the photograph and where I might see it again?

I've been using combinations of 'wet nurse' 'italy' and 'uniform' in searches, and I'll be grateful for any advice about better search terms too.

The photo is black-and-white.
posted by glasseyes to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I found this http://www.nctba.org/breastfeeding/biomedical-ethics-and-peer-to-peer-milk-sharing
search terms I used were "wet nurses orphanage" but I think it is also worth trying breastfeeding orphanage
Leave out uniform, I think this gets you the alarming places.
The picture you posted of a breastfeeding Mary and Jesus btw is called a Mary Lactans, I have a freind who collects those and boy they are odd - but not alarming!
posted by 15L06 at 4:20 AM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh, the third picture on that page is babies being bottle fed in an orphanage. No, I don't think breast feeding per se is alarming!
posted by glasseyes at 4:31 AM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: snickerdoodle, wonderful that you've seen it too. Obv. it would have been a half-tone print in the newspaper, but the image was very crisp and detailed, I'd be surprised if the original isn't a photograph.
posted by glasseyes at 4:38 AM on October 24, 2014

Found this one (using "allatamento al seno" in B&W) from here. There is also this one and this one (from here).
posted by elgilito at 4:43 AM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: These are some amazing pictures, thanks so much. 15L06 and elgilito, the ones with the young nurses in uniform are very, very close - but none of them are pinging my incongruity meter, so I don't think they're it - there was a kind of look-how-we're-ever-so-progressive vibe to the photo, almost as if it were an advert for a supermodern facility (or supermodern nation) -

At least, I think I remember that, memory being so fluid and all. I hope I'm not making this up.
posted by glasseyes at 5:14 AM on October 24, 2014

This one perhaps? I searched for balia orfanotrofio on goole image, B&W.
posted by guy72277 at 6:20 AM on October 24, 2014

Sorry, just noticed it had already been found...
posted by guy72277 at 6:23 AM on October 24, 2014

Best answer: This one? I can't find the original, just a scan of a page from a photography book.
posted by lydhre at 7:07 AM on October 24, 2014

If it helps, in Italian an orphanage for infants is a "brefotrofio" (as opposed to an orfanotrofio, which is for older children) and a wet nurse is a "balia" (plural "balie" which is how I found that photo). It's apparently from 1932, taken in Rome's brefotrofio.
posted by lydhre at 7:10 AM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: lydhre, what with the sharply ironed pleats and the sharply cut hair that is possibly the picture, although seeing so many similar has fuzzied up my visual memory a bit. She is a smart young woman in the middle there! The diagonal composition matches as well. With a very tight crop the picture has the impression of crispness + Mmm...boobies that I'm searching for.

I'm not sure though! I won't mark the question resolved yet in case there are any more suggestions. Thanks everyone for strong google-fu and search tips.
posted by glasseyes at 10:25 AM on October 24, 2014

I also found another picture from the same shoot, which has more boobage. The watermark is from the Alinari archive which owns the originals.
posted by lydhre at 10:58 AM on October 24, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you lydhre. I think the first one you linked might be it. But now I'm not sure!

With the right combination of search terms it seems interesting that there are quite a few institutional Italian wet nurse pictures. Was it a particularly Italian thing? I'm not at all aware of similar British pics from the same era.
posted by glasseyes at 12:20 PM on October 24, 2014

Response by poster: Marking this as best answer. I'm not absolutely sure if it's the right one but probability says it is. Gives me the same feels anyway. I did think there were more women but pfft! to my memory.

Thanks very much everyone and especially lydhre.
posted by glasseyes at 2:41 AM on October 25, 2014

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