Iconic: View from the 21 Club on Front Street. *Photo by George Daniell
Iconic: View from the 21 Club on Front Street. *Photo by George Daniell

The element of surprise is one of the real satisfactions that come’s with collecting. When you come across the unexpected- a painting, a photograph a snippet of information that connects an artist to Bermuda, you feel a real rush of adrenalin. This is what happened one Saturday morning when we ventured into Pulp and Circumstance and saw a greeting card which said, “I’ll love you till it rains in Marble Bar” (Australian Bush Talk). The image was a vintage photograph of a couple on the veranda of the 21 Club on Front Street- now the Pickled Onion.

Wow! The image itself was beautifully composed-all diagonals pushing to the borders of the photograph anchored by the couple in the bottom middle who are completely oblivious to the activities around them. The waterfront bustles with people going to and fro on peddle bikes — the Monarch of Bermuda steams out of Hamilton Harbour with men and women waving away on the dock and the horse and carriages sit empty, having just discharged their passengers.  The two gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes and enjoy a Triangle brewery mineral (obviously the Bermuda Triangle had been notorious even in 1938.)

The photographer was George Daniell, who had been hired to do a series of fashion shoots on the island. This picture is named Pre-war Gaiety, Bermuda and was taken in 1938. Many critics regard Daniell as an over-looked talent. He studied painting at Yale, graduating in 1934, and then went to the Art Students League in New York. He began free-lance work in 1937 to supplement support from his family and it was during this time he was sent to Bermuda on assignment. He was esteemed by none other than Georgia O’Keeffe, who he met through her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, at 291 Gallery, which was the spring board for many of Stieglitz’ protégés. Bruce Weber, a leading photographer and film maker said: “I remember Miss O’Keeffe saying that besides Stieglitz, of course, George Daniell and Laura Gilpin were here two favorite photographers.”

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