Incredible Vintage Portraits by M. I. Boris (1887-1962)

M. I. Boris (Boris Majdrakoff) was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, and educated in the studio of the pioneer Balkan photographer and Bulgarian freedom fighter Toma Hitrov by Hitrov’s widow, Elena Chernova. Boris eventually married their daughter Ivanka Hitrova, also a photographer. In 1922, in pursuit of Ivanka, and to evade retribution for shooting a man, he moved to New York.

Throughout the 1920s, he expanded into Society portraiture as a supplement to his theatrical and movie star projects. In the late 1930s, his style grew less painterly and more “straight” as he established himself as a fixture in the New York scene.

An adherent of Jungenstil, the proto-modernist aesthetic that reigned in Austria before the War, Boris developed a mode of portrait photography with sinuous profiles and backgrounds aswirl with quasi-abstract graphic patterning. He brought the style to New York in 1923. His pictures bear strong affinities with those of Orval Hixon, Homer K. Peyton, and William Mortensen in the aggressive manipulation of the negative and the concern with creating a synthetic image of great allure.

His vintage prints of the 1920s are among the rarest and most visually arresting of the portraitists of the inter-war years (source).

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Dorothy Phillips, by M. I. Boris via

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Greta Nissen, by M.I. Boris c.1926 via

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Louise Brooks, by M.I. Boris c.1926 via

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Lois Wilson, by M.I. Boris c.1922 via

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Katherine Burke, 1923 via

Vintage Photos of Silent Stars Alla Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino in “Camille” (1921)

Camille is one of numerous screen adaptations of the book and play La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas. The original play opened in Paris in 1852.

The 1921 silent film stars Rudolph Valentino as smitten law student Armand and Russian actress Alla Nazimova as ailing courtesan Marguerite Gautier.

The film moves the setting of the story to 1920s Paris, and includes many lavish Art Deco sets, including that of Marguerite’s apartment.

Natacha Rambova, who would later become Valentino’s second wife, was the movie’s art director.

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Alla Nazimova photographed by Arthur Rice as Marguerite Gautier in Camille, 1921 via

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Alla Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino in “Camille”, 1921 via

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Alla Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino in “Camille”, 1921 via

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Alla Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino in “Camille”, 1921 via

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Alla Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino in “Camille”, 1921 via

Young Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1923)

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Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon (1900 – 2002) by E.O. Hoppé 1923, the same year  she came to prominence by marrying Albert, Duke of York, the second son of King George V and Queen Mary.  Silver gelatine, print original, Artist Estate collection via

Joan Crawford as Billie Brown in Our Modern Maidens (1929)

Our Modern Maidens is a 1929 American silent drama film directed by Jack Conways, the spectacular Art Deco set is by Cedric Gibbons and gowns are by Adrian. The film is a sequal to “Our Dancing Daughters”.

In the film real life couple Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. were teamed together, which made for a clever studio marketing campaign. The public had a fascination with Hollywood’s new “golden couple”, and the studio ensured that Joan’s last silent film was a success.

The story was a controversial for the times.

Joan Crawford stars as heiress Billie Brown who is engaged to marry her longtime sweetheart, budding diplomat, Gil Jordan, played by Fairbanks.

When Billie goes to see senior diplomat Glenn Abbott about ensuring that Gil gets a favorable assignment, Billie and Glenn are undeniably attracted to one another. Gil is likewise attracted to Kentucky Strafford, Billie’s houseguest, who becomes pregnant by Gil.

Gil finds that he loves Kentucky, but marries Billie instead. Once Gil finds that Billie really loves Glenn and Billie finds that Gil loves Kentucky, their marriage is annulled and both are paired up with the people they truly love.

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Joan Crawford as Bille Brown for “Our Modern Maidens,” 1929 via

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Joan Crawford as Bille Brown for “Our Modern Maidens,” 1929 via

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Joan Crawford as Bille Brown for “Our Modern Maidens,” 1929 via

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Joan Crawford as Bille Brown for “Our Modern Maidens,” 1929 via