Strothmann Sons: Oscar, Royal, and William

From left: Oscar, Royal and William H. Strothmann (image courtesy of Susan Strothmann Brooks)

In a previous post about Berger, Missouri’s St. Paul Catholic church, I discovered that Berger had its own, homegrown professional photographer: Richard Louis Gatzemeyer (1866-1945). Susan Strothmann Brooks recently found my blog and sent me the first professional Gatzemeyer portrait I’ve seen.

Richard, the son of Franklin County farmers August Gatzemeyer and Josephine (Berends) Gatzemeyer, kept a general store with his wife, Mary (Kotthoff) Gatzemeyer; he also farmed and, surprisingly, may have traveled to Japan in the 1930s.

This cabinet card photograph depicts three of the sons of Berger farmers Frederick Christian Strothmann (1847-1933) and Anna Maria (Drewell) Strothmann (1857-1922).

Gatzemeyer posed the three symmetrically and rather formally grouped around a small table. All the props of mid-nineteenth century portraiture are present: The painted backdrop, draperies, and (rather incongruously) a fur throw rug, all arranged to evoke an upper middle class parlor.

With Royal positioned standing in the center between his two seated brothers, the three men form a triangle, echoing the triangular upward sweep created by the drapes on either side of the composition.

The young men are dressed in their best suits, and as if their clothes, posture and expressions were not enough to indicate their seriousness, William’s hand rests on what appears to be a book of hymns.

While firmly anchored in the nineteenth century tropes of studio portraiture, the plain dark gray card mount  and simple advertising mark places this photograph in the early 1900s.

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Published in: on September 7, 2011 at 9:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

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