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Umbrella tree at Smith's Point [second view]

Umbrella tree at Smith`s Point [second view] Photograph
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[ This description is from the project: Staff Favorites ]

Known to her friends and family as "Clover," Marian Hooper Adams was born in Boston, 13 September 1843. She married historian and writer Henry Adams in 1872, and they moved to Washington in 1877, where Clover was known for her wit and celebrated salon. She took up photography in 1883, and her work as a portraitist and landscape photographer was admired by family and friends. Her life was cut short by suicide while suffering an overwhelming depression in part triggered by her father’s death.

"There is something that I love about the odd shape of the tree and its twisted trunk."

Vice President of Communications and Marketing Carol Knauff on the photograph of an umbrella tree:

This photograph depicts a solitary tree perched at the edge of a cliff. There is something that I love about the odd shape of the tree and its twisted trunk. The mist and fog blur out any distinguishable background making the tree and its surroundings mysterious and unknown. Is there imminent danger lurking in behind the cliff or is the fog about to clear presenting a clear, bright sky?

I first learned about Clover Adams and her photographs as the MHS planned the exhibition A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life: The Photographs of Clover Adams with Natalie Dykstra in 2012. Clover’s story and her love of photography fascinated me. You can get a sense of her extraordinary eye; this is especially apparent to me in the lovely composition of this image.

Clover carefully arranged her photographs in albums. This photo of the umbrella tree is paired with an image of Henry Adams at his desk. It makes me wonder what Clover was trying to communicate. Is the tree at the edge of a cliff foreshadowing Clover’s tragic end? Or is she making a witty comment about her husband?

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