This picture was taken in Gunnison, Mississippi, in 1897. You can see the same elements:

Every element is in place -- the bucket on a cloth-covered table, the stove set up to cook.... Notice the white male in the back with umbrella. He's just part of the composition.
The entire scene is organized, from the foreground to the distant background. Coovert placed these men in canoes, holding onto posts rising above the flood -- an arrangement he used over and over.
 
 

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"In Search of J.C. Coovert"
An illustrated lecture on the life and work of J.C. Coovert by Jane Adams and D. Gorton

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    In Search of J.C. Coovert
    page 2
    This early Delta picture shows his sense of formal composition and balance:
    • The scene is viewed from an elevated angle
    • It is shot in mid-morning or mid-afternoon
    • He has a strong sense of balance and organization
    • The horizon splits the picture in the middle or two-thirds.

    I believe he drew on the conventions of the tableau vivant: "a grouping of silent, motionless actors which represents an incident and presents an artistic spectacle." In the late 19th century, tableau vivants were created by drama and other social clubs, and were organized in parlor games similar to charades. As in a tableau vivant, Coovert created a world organized, ordered, and made absolutely still, creating a dramatic story about the world as he conceived it.







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