Sto­ry­telling with Strangers

Add char­ac­ter to your home with an­tique and vin­tage por­trait paint­ings.

Cottages & Bungalows - - Extra - BY KRIS CHRIS­TENSEN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY KRIS CHRIS­TENSEN AND BRET GUM

From the mas­ter­works hung in gilded frames in the grand halls of Euro­pean palaces

to the in­ti­mate vi­gnettes of our an­ces­tors’ faces ar­ranged on mod­est man­tel tops, dec­o­rat­ing with por­traits has long been a way to honor our fa­vorite peo­ple. Th­ese works usu­ally de­pict fam­ily mem­bers and close friends or in­flu­en­tial na­tional fig­ures and other well-known celebri­ties. Ev­ery once in a while, how­ever, the painted por­trait of a com­plete stranger is com­pletely cap­ti­vat­ing.

ENIG­MATIC PER­SON­AL­I­TIES

There’s a sense of mys­tery to be sa­vored in vin­tage por­traits of un­known peo­ple. When faced with the paint­ing of a stranger, we see a piece of his­tory rep­re­sented be­fore us–with old-fash­ioned hair­styles and out­moded cloth­ing–in a way that em­pha­sizes the dif­fer­ences be­tween life then and the way things are now.

How­ever, th­ese dis­tinc­tions don’t seem to mat­ter when the em­pa­thetic ex­pres­sions in care­fully ren­dered faces draw us in

[Top] De­signer Ali­son Kan­dler uses vin­tage por­traits to give in­ter­est and in­trigue to oth­er­wise over­looked ar­eas.

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