Winter Reveries

Waiters in the Grand Hotel Dining Room watch Sonja Henie ice skating. St. Moritz, 1932.
Photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt.

I’ve always been captivated with the idea of why and how certain images seem to stay with you. This is one of those photographs for me. Each time I see it, I take away something new. Intuitively, I know there’s a bit of nostalgia for a time I was not personally acquainted with, but could well imagine. With today, the first of November, and thoughts of winter, I am reminded of this iconic image snapped by a master photographer in this fabled hamlet in the Engadine valley of Switzerland long ago.

The black and white of it perfectly conveys the time. You almost feel the need to shield your eyes from the glare of the winter landscape outside as the blinding light of the snow pierces the panes of glass, accentuating the warmth of the moment and the quiet of the room, safely tucked atop a tower filled with awe, expectancy and the crisp starch of rolled napkins, pressed tablecloths, aprons in snapped-to precision and the dreams and fantasies of a tightly knit group of young men filled with excitement, wonder, and longing for that gliding silhouette on ice that might one day figure in their future.




~ by eaesthete on 11/01/09.

9 Responses to “Winter Reveries”

  1. This is wonderful. As well as speaking of all kinds of mysterious narrative possibilities, it really does feel like an echo of a vanished world.

  2. What a powerful photo; I like the way your description captures the excitement in the room. Most people don’t realize what a big star Sonja Henie was in the 30’s, and why those waiters were so excited. She was an Olympic Medalist in multiple Winter Olympics and won multiple World Championships. Sometime after this photo was taken, she retired from competitive athletics to become an international star (if she wasn’t one already) and one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood.

  3. So true & Beautifully said.

  4. i agree with everyone above except the “just out of the box” look of the two foremost aprons breaks the spell of this photograph for me.

  5. It is a powerful representation of winter. As someone who lives in the northern New England mountains, you are correct…the glare of the sun on the snow is captured.

  6. In the days before television, this must have been a momentous day for the staff.

    On a completely tangential note: I’ve never had a less than stellar experience in an establishment where the wait staff was traditionally kitted out. Pride of profession, I suppose.

  7. Wonderful!!!

  8. Can someone tell me where I can purchase a copy of this photo

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