Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Hipster Doofus, 1837

Portrait of Nathaniel Olds, 1837, by Industrialist Jeptha Homer Wade
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH

I would like to state right from the start that admission to the Cleveland Museum of Art is free.  Their collection is varied with some first-rate pieces, and some of spurious worth and origin.  I view this portrait by industrialist and philanthropist Jeptha H. Wade to be in the latter category.   But then Wade donated the land on which the museum, along with the Museum of Natural History, Western Reserve Historical Society, and Cleveland Botanical Gardens, sits.  Perhaps someone felt like they 'owed' him something and hanging one of works would pay that debt.
All artistic talent aside, the best thing about this portrait is the subject, perhaps the earliest expression of the phenomenon of the Hipster.  Here N. Olds is wearing dark glasses to protect his eyes from the harsh light cast by whale oil lamps.  There is no mention made that he had a condition that demanded this, although one could assume that...if not for his hair, to say nothing of his open and upturned collar.  I need say nothing of the collar because the hair will suffice to bolster my argument.  That seemingly haphazardly tussled hair that took 45 minutes to get juuuuuust right.  There is no greater identifier of the Hipster than the hair, not even the clothes, though we have the clothes here as well.
I present you with the first rendering of a hipster doofus.  Thank you, Cleveland!

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