Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Grandmother Tayloe and art history

Last Christmas Momma gave me a gift that I have always cherished. This painting was done by my great grandmother, Nelle Tayloe, one of three Nelle's that I'm named for, pronounced Nellie. Grandmother Tayloe painted this at her summer home on Walloon Lake. Walloon is in norther Michigan very close to The Grand Hotel. The lake house had a nickname; Elmarvaho for her four children, Elizabeth, Margaret, Virginia and my granddaddy, Howard. 

E. and I spent our honeymoon very close to Walloon Lake at the Grand Hotel. It's a magical place. This is the color of Lake Michigan. It really and truly looks exactly like this on sunny days this far up north. No photo filter needed. I can imagine my grandparents and great grandparents enjoying the cool summers away from the heat of Memphis. When my Momma and Daddy were first married, Dad got excepted to Michigan State for his Masters program. Mom was excited to head north since she had spent so many summers there as a child. I visited once when I was little, little and then again after college to visit my precious Tayloe at her grandmother's cottage which was next door to the "big" house, as all called it.

This is a portrait of Grandmother Tayloe. Everyone calls her Grandmother Tayloe even though she is my great. It was finished in 1935 in Memphis, Tennessee. The reason I have this painting breaks my heart because the uncle who gave it to me is no longer with us. We all miss him. I remember this painting so vividly in my grandparents home. My mother has such fond memories of Grandmother Tayloe, saying she never complained and loved the hokey pokey! Isn't that a hoot?

Charles Frederick Naegele was the artist. After doing some research I found out that he was living in Memphis and was 87 when he painted it. My great Grandfather George Tayloe commissioned many works for the family at this time by Mr. Naegele. Portrait crazy is what some wrote. I need to go to the National Portrait Gallery and the Renwick in DC and see if I can find out more about him. I love a good art history lesson and this one will be so personal to research.

This is one of my most favorite photos of me and my grandmother Tayloe, who we all fondly called Grandmommy Nancy, my mother's mother. Not the one in the portrait above but her daughter-in-law. She was also nicknamed NT by some.

This is Grandmommy Nancy and my adorably tan Granddaddy Howard. Howard is Grandmother Tayloe's first child and only son. Are you bored to tears yet? Sorry, but I've realized that this blog has become a wonderful journal that I can look back on. Grandmother Tayloe wrote to Granddaddy at W&L from Washington, DC, boasting about riding in the Inaugural parade during Calvin Coolidge's Inauguration! This painting hadn't even been painted yet! That history is posted here, jump to (5) in the post. 

I've had this post queued up for over a year thanks to a request from @girltuesday. Thanks so much for the interest Kate. It's been so much fun finding out more about this artist and celebrating the fact that so many women in my family were artistically gifted as well. Many of my cousins are professional artists and I too was an art major.  

While in Memphis a few weeks ago I found Grandfather's portrait was beautifully hung in the dining room at Chip and Louise's home. I love knowing that I got grandfather out of the garage!!! Ha. You can see that the frames are exactly the same. Aren't they a regal couple, Grandmother and Grandfather?

Missing my family scattered throughout the country writing this, especially my sweet Momma. This photo of her dancing with her brother Chip is one of my all time favorites. Save your letters pals. The history they tell for generations have been priceless to us.


girltuesday said...

LOVE! Thanks so much for indulging me. :)

Worthington said...

What an awesome post - I see where a lot of your looks comes from in the family! I am an Ancestry/genealogical dorkus so please know that I loved every moment of reading this one.


Nelle Somerville said...

Thanks Whitney!!! Xo