Hello, again History Lovers,
Today’s post concludes The Two Pictures I Would Like Best To Own series. This letter-writing campaign was sponsored by The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women in 1923. Women were asked to write in and tell about the pictures that grace the walls of their homes. A few pictures were stately portraits, some were bucolic landscapes and many were dynamic religious-themed events. The quality of the pictures that the women owned ranged from pages cut from magazines to postcards to high-quality images carried from London rolled in a steamer rug across the ocean. All brought beauty and joy to the women who submitted letters.
The Farmer’s Wife only published ten of the hundreds of letters received in their office, however, they did include a list of a few of the works of art that were mentioned in the unpublished letters. I have posted several of them below. My hope is that everyone has been able not only to enjoy the artwork in this series but has been able to appreciate the sentiments expressed as well.
My Honor Pictures
When we were children at home, my mother who, though of very limited schooling, was an extremely well-educated and rarely cultured woman, used to play with us a game called “Artists,” something like the game of “Authors.” Four miniature reproductions of paintings by one artist constituted a “book.” Through this simple medium, we acquired a familiarity with and an instinctive love for some of the best pictures. Thus, it was, with no hesitation, I chose as the first picture for my own home, a good copy of the Sistine Madonna. At that time, I could not buy even the simplest of scrim curtains for the windows of the room in which it hung but there was no question in my mind as to the comparative value of pictures or curtains—I simply could not imagine a living room without the Sistine Madonna. It is gospel on canvas and I feel that it is truly inspired by the love of God as John’s Gospel. Every hour we spend in our living room, the serene influence of the benign faces of the Holy Mother and Child is over us. No child who grows up loving them quite can fail to love what is good and pure and holy.
The second, I should select which I have, is the one which to me best portrays the splendor of Leonardo da Vinci’s soul. It is one which in my younger days and immature understanding, I rather disliked and feared but now the “inscrutable smile” of Mona Lisa is to me Leonardo’s philosophy of life. That smile seems to say, “These petty trappings, the pomp, the vanities of life are but the play of puppets. This little span of mortality is given thee to strive to make a soul fit to be the understanding, comprehending, sympathetic companion of God in the loveliness of His Heaven. Creation! That is all that matters.”
My home, from nursery to kitchen, is full of pictures, masterpieces all, but these two, the Sistine Madonna and the Mona Lisa, hold supremely the place of honor. –Mrs. I.L.M., Kentucky
Below are examples of artwork including the image of a statue mentioned in some of the unpublished letters to The Farmer’s Wife: