Who Else Has the ‘Grace’ Portrait…and Who Has the Female Counterpart?
For the longest time, when I was much younger, I thought Eric Enstrom's "Grace" was a portrait of someone in my family.
Growing up, I saw this iconic work every time I'd visit my Uncle Charlie's house in Russellville and then my grandfather had a copy, too.
The man in the photograph--whose name is Charles Wilden--bears a resemblance to members of my dad's side of the family. I thought he was a great-great or something. I guess I could've ASKED, couldn't I? Well, since it wasn't top of mind when I was a kid, I didn't.
But I keep learning new things about "Grace." For example, it is the state photograph of Minnesota, where Enstrom took the picture. And then there's the story that was sent to me that recounts a visit from Wilden to Enstrom's Bovey, Minnesota studio in 1920, or perhaps 1918. As all great photographers do, Enstrom recognized a quality in Wilden's face that he HAD to capture on film. His request to have the traveling salesman--Wilden's profession--pose as if in prayer was an intent to inspire thankfulness.
I've also learned--and this makes perfect sense--that the original photo was black and white and that Enstrom's daughter, Rhoda Nyberg, colorized it. And THAT'S the one most people have. In fact, I've never seen a version of the monochrome original.
When my grandfather passed away, I inherited his copy.
However, there is a female counterpart called "Gratitude" which has not been easy to locate.
I searched "female counterpart of Eric Enstrom's 'Grace'" and had to go down a long list of entries to get to something about Jack Garren's distaff portrait. And I can only provide a link since, unlike "Grace," "Gratitude" is NOT in the public domain; it was done in the 1960s and the copyright is still active.
But I've only ever seen "Gratitude" one time and that was some 35, 40 years ago and at the home of a friend of my dad's.
Now, I'm pretty sure many folks have "Grace," but I wonder who has "Gratitude." I've always been fascinated by one but never saw the other enough to get a feeling about it.
And, for whatever reasons, "Grace" reminds me of Christmas, although nothing in the portrait points to it.
But it just does. Maybe it's because of the connection to my grandfather. Anyway, generally, I've always loved exactly what Eric Enstrom was trying to convey. Here's a man sitting down to a simple meal of soup and bread and very grateful to have both.
It's a sentiment that's so simple and humble and, hopefully, not forgotten.