My Material Life

Grace by Howell Conant

Samantha is eagerly awaiting a new American Girl Doll catalog.  We were sure we saw our mail carrier put one in our box the other day, but it was the Barbie Collector catalog (with Will and Kate on the cover), not American Girl.  There was, however, a beautiful doll version of a classic American beauty in her wedding gown in the catalog – Princess Grace. Samantha didn’t know who Princess Grace was, so that gave me an opportunity to get re-aquainted with Howell Conant’s photo book (check around if you want to purchase one; prices seem to vary widely on the internet).

Look at Grace and Ranier having lunch in their shades with baby.  He looks so dashing in a Euro, latter mid-20th century kind of way.

This next one is like a Madeline book come to life.  What a thoughtfully designed orphanage.  I like those light fixtures, but they’re probably not great for reading in bed.  Maybe the design’s not all that thoughtful.  Maybe the girls never read in bed. Who would read to them after all?  I wonder what life was like there for those kids.  Still, as far as orphanages go, this one looks pretty nice.

I love the way that arc of light from the candle frames Grace and Ranier.

The photo below was Conant’s favorite of the royal couple.  It was taken in 1980, the same year I graduated from high school.  I remember being home from college a couple of years later, with my mom in the kitchen, when we heard that Grace had died.  We couldn’t believe it.  She was the same age as Mom. Howell Conant died in 1999.

For more on Grace, you might enjoy reading The Bridesmaids, an account of Grace’s early years in Hollywood, her wedding, and beyond by one of her close friends, Judith Balaban Quine.

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