Portraits of Alma Mahler, The most Beautiful Girl in Vienna

A socialite and amateur composer known for her beauty and verve, Alma Mahler (1879 – 1964) was married to composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius, and novelist Franz Werfel. She also undertook a strong flirtation with Gustav Klimt and affairs with numerous artists. She is often regaled as the definitive femme fatale of the early 20th century (source).

When she married Gustav Mahler in 1902, he was nineteen years her senior and the director of the Vienna Court Opera. The terms of Alma’s marriage with Gustav were that she would abandon her own interest in composing. Artistically stifled herself, she embraced her role as a loving wife and supporter of Gustav’s music.

Later in their marriage, after becoming severely depressed in the wake of her daughter´s death, she began an affair with the young architect Walter Gropius (later head of the Bauhaus), whom she met during a rest at a spa. On seeking advice from Sigmund Freud, who cited Mahler’s curtailing of Alma’s musical career as a major marital obstacle, and following the emotional crisis in their marriage after Gustav’s discovery of the affair, Gustav began to take a serious interest in Alma’s musical compositions, regretting his earlier dismissive attitude and taking promotional actions, including editing and re-orchestrating some of her works.

Upon his urging, and under his guidance, she prepared five of her songs for publication (they were issued in 1910, by Gustav’s own publisher, Universal Edition). Alltogether she was the composer of at least seventeen songs for voice and piano.


Alma Mahler, 1900 via


Alma Mahler via


Alma Mahler, 1900 via


Alma Mahler, 1900 via

Two Drawings of Louise Chéruit by Paul César Helleu

Madame Louise Chéruit (1866-1955) was among the foremost couturiers of her generation, and one of the first women to control a major French fashion house. Her salon operated in the Place Vendôme in Paris under the name Chéruit from 1906 to 1935.

Chéruit is best remembered today as the subject of a number of portraits by artist Paul César Helleu, with whom she conducted an affair before opening her couture house and for the appearance of her name in two celebrated works of literature, Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past (1910) and Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies (1930).

Her name is also frequently associated with the fashion photography of Edward Steichen whose favorite model, Marion Morehouse, often wore gowns from the house of Chéruit for Vogue magazine in the 1920s. One particular Steichen image has become iconic: Morehouse in a jet-beaded black net Chéruit dress, first published in 1927.


Louise Chéruit by  Paul César Helleu (1859-1927) via


« Madame Chéruit », drypoint etching by Paul-César Helleu, reproduced as plate XXIX in: Montesquiou, Robert de (1913), Paul Helleu, Peintre et Graveur, Paris: H. Floury (circa 1900) via

Vintage Celebrity Portraits by Benjamin J. Falk

When photographer Napoleon Sarony died in 1896, Benjamin J. Falk ascended to the first place in the world of performing arts photography.

Born on October 14th, 1853, Benjamin J. Falk grew up in New York City. He graduated from the College of the City of New York with a B.S. in 1872, while concurrently serving as a technician under photographer George Rockwood. His first ambition was to be a graphic artist, so he attended classes at the NY Academy of Design while maintaining a studio with Jacob Schloss:

“Being naturally of an investigating turn of mind he interested himself in scientific studies. After making crayons for five years, he enlarged his studio into a photographic gallery. In 1881 he moved to Broadway, where the business grew rapidly, developing largely in the line of portraits of celebrities” (source).

He often experimented with his images, using curious juxtapositions, unusual poses, and lighting highlights to convey distinctiveness of personality. He did many portraits against blank walls or bleached out backcloths. He began the fashion for faces and figures suspended in a milky white ground that became ubiquitous shortly after 1900.


Lillian Russell, bust portrait, facing front by Benjamin J. Falk, 1889 via


Lillian Russell, 1861-1922, full length, standing, facing left; in elegant gown by Benjamin J. Falk, 1904 via


Dancer and pioneer Loïe Fuller by Benjamin J. Falk, 1896 via


Dancer and pioneer Loïe Fuller by Benjamin J. Falk, 1896 via


British actress Lillie Langtry by Benjamin J. Falk, 1881 via


British actress Lillie Langtry by Benjamin J. Falk, 1881 via

A Collection of Gibson Girls Illustrations by Charles Dana Gibson

Charles Dana Gibson (1867 – 1944) was an American graphic artist, best known for his creation of the Gibson Girl, an iconic representation of the beautiful and independent American woman at the turn of the 20th century.

The artist saw his creation as representing the composite of “thousands of American girls.”The Gibson Girl image combined elements of older American images of caucasian female beauty, such as the “fragile lady” and the “voluptuous woman”. From the “fragile lady” she took the basic slender lines, and a sense of respectability. From the “voluptuous woman” she took a large bust and hips, but was not vulgar or lewd, as previous images of women with large busts and hips had been depicted. From this combination emerged the Gibson Girl, who was tall and slender, yet with ample bosom, hips and buttocks. She had an exaggerated S-curve torso shape achieved by wearing a swan-bill corset. Images of her epitomized the late 19th- and early 20th-century Western preoccupation with youthful features and ephemeral beauty. Her neck was thin and her hair piled high upon her head in the contemporary bouffant, pompadour, and chignon (“waterfall of curls”) fashions. The statuesque, narrow-waisted ideal feminine figure was portrayed as being at ease and stylish.

Many models posed for Gibson Girl-style illustrations, including Gibson’s wife, Irene Langhorne who may have been the original model, and was a sister of Viscountess Nancy (Langhorne) Astor. Other models included Evelyn Nesbit. The most famous Gibson Girl was probably the Belgian-American stage actress, Camille Clifford, whose high coiffure and long, elegant gowns that wrapped around her hourglass figure and tightly corseted wasp waist defined the style


Charles Dana Gibson, The Gibson Girl, Pen and ink on paper, 12.5 x 9.5 in. via


Charles Dana Gibson, A daughter of the south, 1909. Pen and ink, 57 x 40 cm via


Charles Dana Gibson, Well-Dressed Woman, Ink on paper 17 x 12 in. via


Charles Dana Gibson, Sweetest story ever told, 1910. Pen and ink over graphite under drawing ; 57.7 x 43.5 cm via


Charles Dana Gibson pen and ink on paper illustration for Collier’s Weekly; published in the artist’s collection Our Neighbors, 1905 via


Charles Dana Gibson, Patience, 1910 via

A Collection of Photos Feat. Rita de Acosta Lydig

Cuban-American socialite Rita de Acosta Lydig (1875 – 1929) was in her heyday one of the foremost women of high society –  photographed by Adolf de Meyer, Edward Steichen and Gertrude Käsebier, she was regarded:

“the most picturesque woman in America.”

She was sculpted in alabaster by Malvina Hoffman and  painted by Giovanni Boldini and John Singer Sargent. Isabella Stewart Gardner, the creator of the Gardner museum in Boston, once asked their mutual friend, John Singer Sargent, why Rita had never expressed herself artistically. “Why should she?” Sargent answered, “She herself is art.”

Lydig was famous for her extravagant lifestyle, :

“…Rita was equally welcomed in Paris, where she spent parts of each year. She would arrive at the Ritz with a hairdresser, masseuse, chauffeur, secretary, maid,… and forty Louis Vuitton trunks…”

Saddly her overspending into heavy debt and she was declared bankrupt – shortly afterwards she died of pernicious anaemia at the age of 54.

Later her personal wardrobe became the basis for the start of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art


Rita de Acosta Lydig by Edward Steichen, 1905 via


Rita de Acosta Lydig (1875-1929) photographed by Gertrude Käsebier (1852-1934). Illustration in “Camera work”, n° 10, April 1905 via


Rita de Acosta Lydig’ by Adolphe de Meyer, 1913




Rita de Acosta Lydig’ by Adolphe de Meyer, 1913



Beautiful Belle Epoque Couture by Redfern

Redfern & Sons (later Redfern Ltd), was a British tailoring firm founded by John Redfern (1820-1895) in Cowes on the Isle of Wight that developed into a leading European couture house (active: 1855–1932; 1936–1940). By the early 1890s the business had branches in London, Edinburgh, Paris and New York.

The Paris extension was operated as a couture establishment while its other branches functioned primarily as tailors and importers.


“Robe de bal en chantilly blanc, incrustée de chantilly noir, bordée de sequins noirs. Au bord du décolleté et dans le bas de la jupe, haut marabout de sequins.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1902 via


“Robe en crêpe de chine avec incrustation d’angleterre ; devant en tulle plissé ; ceinture liberty brodée de perles fines.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1903 via


“Robe en tulle et dentelle d’Alençon, laissant entrevoir la taille, ceinte d’un ruban Pompadour.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1903 via


“Robe avec guirlandes de liserons en paillettes nacrées, sur tulle blanc ; épaulettes en perles fines , guirlande de liserons sur l’épaule gauche.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1903 via


“Robe en linon blanc brodé. Pélerine avec incrustations de valenciennes ; jupe avec incrustations et volant de valenciennes, monté sur fond Pompadour. Ceinture faite d’un large ruban Pompadour et munie de longs pans.” Photograph from Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1903 via


“Robe en linon royal et broderie anglaise avec entre deux et volants de valenciennes ; ceinture de taffetas Pompadour.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1904 via


“Robe en voile blanc ; ceinture en taffetas brodé Pompadour ainsi que l’empiècement en dentelle du corsage”. Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1904 via


Robe d’après-midi par Redfern 1904 via


“Robe en velours bois de rose, guirlandes de roses de velours, brodées vieux tons. Grande veste en faille noire tissée de roses de France ombrées vieux tons d’or, garnie de chinchilla.” Photograph in Les Modes : Revue mensuelle illustrée des arts décoratifs appliqués à la femme, 1906 via

Wonderful Belle Epoque Photos of Can-Can Dancer Saharet

Saharet (1879-1942) was an Australian dancer who made her New York City debut in February 1897. She performed in vaudeville music houses as well as in Broadway productions. Her given name was Clarissa Rose.


Saharet by Georg Gerlach of Berlin ca. 1905 via


Saharet by Georg Gerlach of Berlin ca. 1905 via


Saharet by Georg Gerlach of Berlin ca. 1905 via

Famous Belle Epoque Actress Eve Lavallière Being Fashionable in “Les Modes”

Ève Lavallière was born at 8 rue Champ-de-Mars in Toulon. Her birth was not desired, and she was placed, up to school age, with a local family of peasants. At school age, however, she was enrolled by her parents in a private school of excellent reputation. After the death of her parents in tragic circumstances, and after running away from home. she arrived, as a teenager, in Paris. She became an actress renowned in the Belle Époque, including the Théâtre des Variétés in Paris.

Later she became a noteworthy Catholic penitent and member of the Secular Franciscan Order.


Eve Lavallière dressed in Jenny. Les Modes, May 1914 via


Eve Lavallière in Les Modes, 1902 (dresses for the comedy Les Deux Ecoles) via


Eve Lavallière in Les Modes, 1902 (dresses for the comedy Les Deux Ecoles) via

Silhouettes Parisiennes, Wonderful Belle Epoque Fashion Images by Freres Neurdein (ca. 1910s)

The brothers Neurdein, Etienne and Louis, had a studio in Paris from 1863 until just before the outbreak of WWI. Etienne Neurdein stayed primarily in Paris, producing local projects, portraits in the studio, and photographing art entries at the Salon de Paris from which many lovely postcards were produced, while his brother Louis traveled widely, spending much of his time in Algeria. Silhouettes Parisiennes was probably produced by Etienne Neurdein.


Silhouettes Parisiennes by Freres Neurdein, circa 1910s via


Silhouettes Parisiennes by Freres Neurdein, circa 1910s via


Silhouettes Parisiennes by Freres Neurdein, circa 1910s via


Silhouettes Parisiennes by Freres Neurdein, circa 1910s via


Silhouettes Parisiennes by Freres Neurdein, circa 1910s via