Summer is a time for vacations and the sharing of vacation photos. So I am sharing a rather curious photograph, taken in summer 1887, which caught my eye in the F. Holland Day Papers in the Manuscript Division. If it wasn’t for the inscription, “To my very good friend Fred Holland Day. Souvenir of my first summer vacation in U. S. A. Lynn, Aug. 19, ’87. Raul Rezende de Carvalho,” written on the back of the photo, one might never guess that this man was on vacation.
Raul Rezende de Carvalho served as Brazilian consul in Boston, Massachusetts, and evidently spent at least part of his first American summer vacation in Lynn, Massachusetts, located on the Atlantic coast just a few miles north of Boston. Judging from the photograph, he doesn’t seem to have gotten the hang of relaxing in a hammock. Even accounting for the formal attire typical of the period, Carvalho, dressed in a hat, vest, and jacket with a pocket square, looks more like someone taking a quick glance at the newspaper before heading off to the office. Hopefully he was more comfortable than he appears in the picture. The photograph seems to depict a failed attempt at a laid-back attitude. Whether or not the humor was intended at the time, today there is certainly a comical aspect to the scene. The mundane realism of laundry hanging on the clothesline in the background adds another amusing detail to this image of a man in a suit and hat reading in a hammock. The Raul Rezende de Carvalho file in the F. Holland Day Papers offers scant information about him and nothing more relating to his first vacation in the United States. An 1888 itinerary for R. R. Carvalho in the same folder as this photograph indicates that he spent the next summer traveling through Europe.
This quirky photo is just a sample of the unique and interesting items contained in the papers of photographer and publisher F. Holland Day (1864-1933), who was part of the American Arts and Crafts movement in the 1890s. He cofounded the publishing firm Copeland and Day and was a leading figure in the pictorialism movement, which emphasized artistic aspects of photography. A major feature of the collection is Day’s extended correspondence with a wide-ranging group of people, including photographers, authors, artists, clients, merchants, and friends, which offers details about life and events in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. And, as in many collections from this period, there is also some hair, a common memento before people had photographs to help them save memories. Learn more about the F. Holland Day Papers through the collection finding aid, available online.
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