JOHN MCPHEE EVALUATES READERS’ PRECIOUS OBJECTS.
CAN YOU PLEASE tell me about this oil painting? My distant Austrian relatives were given it by a priest for helping him and his family during World War I. These relatives then gave the painting to my 90-year-old grandmother when she visited them in Yugoslavia. This is basically all we know. We’d love to find out who the artist was, as well as when and where it was painted. Any information would be appreciated. Michelle Sullivan, MACKAY, QLD This happy scene is typical of many European paintings dating from around 1900. Some women sit around a table drinking a cordial, while musicians play instruments and two courting couples dance. One of the men wears a military uniform — he may be home on leave and the cause for the celebration. The women wear dresses typical of the early 1800s. Two children mimic the dancers. It all takes place outdoors at the end of summer. Paintings like this are romantic evocations of a past that never existed. They were most commonly painted after war and difficult times when the nostalgic imagery conjures up a time when an amateur working in Austria.