While the poor reviews and commentary on the gawd-awful Lifetime Movie Channel’s Lizzie Borden Took An Axe (see my earlier post) starring Christina Ricci continue, I have to report on a most singular and obscure thing they DID get right: The picture above the sofa where Andrew Borden met his fate.
(Image above of the crime scene taken late afternoon of August 4, 1892, from my personal collection of second generation photos.)
You can see the picture here, actually a black and white print of a steel engraving. Here are a couple more images:
There never was any mention of this picture in any of the source documents, newspapers or subsequent books written on the case. Apparently, never worthy of citing, it wasn’t nearly as notable as the sofa – which has been referred to as a “horsehair sofa of the Civil War era”. But the picture has never raised an eyebrow nor an inkling of curiosity. What that picture was remained unknown for 108 years.
In early 2000, Lizzie Borden expert Leonard Rebello, a Fall River native and author of Lizzie Borden Past & Present (1999) conducted some in-depth research and discovered it was a steel engraving called “The Village Elms – Sunday Morning in New England” by a rather prolific painter, Albert Fitch Bellows (1829-1883). For the first time ever, EVER, the “picture above the sofa” was identified in print with the publication of the April 2000 issue (Vol. VII, #2) of the most excellent The Lizzie Borden Quarterly published by Martin F. Bertolet. Lizzie Borden enthusiasts who subscribed to this august publication, were the first to learn of this discovery. To my knowledge, there has never been any other feature article or any reference to this engraving – in context with the Lizzie Borden case – ever written about since. A print of this engraving has hung above the sofa at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast since Mr. Rebello’s discovery.
Here it is below:
One can readily see this exact picture hanging above the sofa in the Lifetime Movie Channel’s film which first aired on January 25, 2014, nearly 14 years after the identification of the what and who first came to light.
So who, I ponder, in the production of this pitiful portrayal of the case was responsible for bringing that piece of historical accuracy to the film? Who did the research? How did they learn of the picture? (Perhaps it was Lee-ann Wilber, manager of the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, who had been contacted about “borrowing” the sofa). Nonetheless, they got the sofa wrong but the picture is correct. They got most everything wrong but they got the picture right. A most obscure inclusion with absolutely no relevancy to the case itself. If they troubled to research that and incorporate it into the film, why leave out so much that WAS relevant?
While it can now be said they got something right, that singular and obscure find still lacks sufficiency for redemption of all they got wrong. Albert Fitch Bellows. The Village Elms And now you know.
Final note: I’d be willing to bet it never hung at “Maplecroft”. 😉