Gentlemen’s Outing

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Ida Crie Collection
Courtesy of Alice Knight

Then as today, wherever people gathered, photographs were taken. We know nothing specific of this scene of men gathered at a rustic cottage, probably on a lake within a carriage ride from Rockland. This could easily have been a municipal bicycle club; such clubs were ubiquitous in the US during this time, the Golden Age of Bicycles. The presence of so many wheels gave the photographer a strong visual element of repetition to draw upon; furthermore, someone with a practiced eye wouldn’t have missed how the sweep of the crossed fishing poles echoes the curvature of the hammocks. Ida clearly knew how to compose, even when the elements in a scene were people.

Interlachen, FL.

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Ida Crie Collection
Courtesy of Alice Knight

This striking image of a large snake coiled on a newspaper was also taken in Interlachen, Florida. The newspaper, however, is Rockland’s Courier Gazette (still in print) from sometime in March of 1898. Crie took photographs of things she found to be interesting or unusual and the heavily patterned snake provides a marked contrast with the black and white newsprint.

Near Interlachen, FL.

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Ida Crie Collection
Courtesy of Alice Knight

Crie travelled to Florida on several occasions to visit with family in Interlachen—a once-popular citrus growing center and winter tourist haven first settled in the 1870s when the railroad was built. In addition to taking photographs of the Florida landscape and her family members, she also, on several occasions, photographed African Americans. In this post-Reconstruction image, four women and two men are gathered in front of a store, where brooms, among other items, are being sold. The group is aware that Crie is taking their photograph, and each individual acts differently in front of the camera—some deliberately looking—others intentionally looking away. Crie used her camera as a tool to better understand her surroundings, and like other Maine women photographers of this era, particularly Chansonetta Stanley Emmons of Kingfield, also chose to document the lives, labor, and living conditions of African Americans in the South.

Unknown Waders, Likely Crescent Beach, Owls Head, ME.

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Ida Crie Collection
Courtesy of Alice Knight

According to her great-granddaughter, Ida brought her camera with her everywhere she went and thus was able to capture a variety of scenes of daily life in the Rockland area and beyond. In this photograph, likely taken on Crescent Beach in nearby Owls Head, three women have raised their long skirts to go wading. Their gaze suggests they are watching something in the water below. It is rare to see so much of a woman’s leg exposed in this era; it would have been considered quite bold.

Triplets Near Union, ME.

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Ida Crie Collection
Courtesy of Alice Knight

When looking through Ida’s larger body of work, it is clear, like the twentieth century photographer Diane Arbus, that she had an eye for the unusual. In this photograph, she captured a set of triplets from Union, Maine, barefoot and dressed identically, with small wilted flowers in their buttonholes. Triplets were a relatively rare occurrence, and Ida’s great-granddaughter Alice Knight points out how unusual it would have been for all three siblings to survive to this age in those days.

Unidentified Family

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Ida Crie Collection
Courtesy of Alice Knight

It was very common in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries for family portraits to be taken outside, in front of the family homestead. Part of the visual appeal of this multi-generational portrait is the fact that only the father is looking at Crie’s camera when she takes it. In our modern digital era, where family portraits can be re-taken and photo-shopped to ensure everyone is looking at the camera, this photograph serves as a poignant reminder of our desire to preserve the images of our loved ones, and how difficult such photographs can be to capture.

Unknown Parlor

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Ida Crie Collection
Courtesy of Alice Knight

Like many turn-of-the-century female photographers, one way that Ida Crie used her camera was to provide a view of domestic interior spaces like this parlor in an unidentified Maine home. In the Victorian era of separate and gendered spheres, the family home was often a woman’s domain, and much time and effort was put into crafting this space. Parlors, the room where company would often sit, were spaces that reflected a family’s refined tastes and interests. They were also a space to display one’s possessions, handiwork, books, curios, and works of art. It was common for middle and upper class families of this era to bring the natural world into the parlor with plants, pressed flowers, and even stuffed animals like the owl peering from its perch atop of the mantle. Elements of this parlor, such as the marine painting and the fishing net, have a decidedly nautical flair and may represent the homeowner’s ties to the sea.