Dora Kallmus – Fashion & Portraits

Dora Philippine Kallmus (1881 – October 28, 1963) was an Austrian-Jewish fashion and portrait photographer who went by the name Madame D’ora. Dora, born in Vienna in 1881, came from a respected family of Jewish lawyers. In 1905 she was the first woman to be admitted to theory courses at the Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt. That same year she became a member of the Vienna Photographic Society. She trained at Nicola Perscheid’s studio in Berlin, where she became friends with his assistant Arthur Benda. In 1907 she opened a photography studio with Benda in Vienna called the Benda-D’Ora Studio. What followed was  a distinguished career as a salon photographer. In 1925, she moved her atelier to Paris, and during the 30s and 40s rose to international prominence through society and high fashion photography. Both her er studios in Vienna and Paris became fashionable meeting places for the cultural and intellectual elite. In Vienna she had  become extremely popular among the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy.

Her subjects included intellectuals, dancers, actors, painters, and writers, fx.  Josephine Baker, Tamara de Lempicka, Maurice Chevalier, Colette, Niddy Impekoven. These vibrant portraits of twentieth-century artists and intellectuals remain important testaments to European cultural life at the turn of the century and beyond.

According to Jewish Women Encyclopedia D’Ora was one of the first photographers to focus on the emerging areas of modern, expressive dance and fashion, particularly after 1920, when fashion photographs started to replace drawings in magazines. While her photographic technique was not radical, her avant-garde subject matter was a risky choice. D’Ora’s photographs captured her clients’ individuality with new, natural positions in contrast to stiff, old-fashioned poses. D’Ora’s achievements also paved the way for other European women’s careers in photography, an area in which many Jewish women in particular found success.

When the Germans invaded France, Madame D’ora fled to a convent in the country side.  Dora returned to France in 1946 and re-opened the studio.

In 1959 she was involved in a serious traffic accident that left her an invalid. She died in Frohnleiten, Steiermark, Austria, in 1963.

Marie Conte photographed by Madame d’Ora

Dora Kallmus (Madame d’Ora) & Arthur Benda - Fashion study, Vienna c.1920.

Madame d’Ora & Arthur Benda – Fashion study, Vienna c.1920.

Portrait of an unknown lady, 1925  by Madame d’Ora

Kallmus, Dora (Madame d'Ora, 1881-1963). Anna Pavlova by RasMarley, 1913.

Kallmus, Dora (Madame d’Ora)(1881-1963) – 1913 Anna Pavlove

Anna Pavlova – The Finest Classical Ballet Dancer

Anna Pavlova  (1881 – 1931) was a Russian Empire ballerina of the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. She is widely regarded as one of the finest classical ballet dancers in history and was most noted as a principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev.

Young Pavlova’s years of training were difficult. Classical ballet did not come easily to her. Her severely arched feet, thin ankles, and long limbs clashed with the small and compact body in favour for the ballerina at the time. Her fellow students taunted her with such nicknames as The broom and The little savage. Undeterred, Pavlova trained to improve her technique and  took extra lessons from the noted teachers of the day. Many of her famous qoutes are about hard work paying of e.g.:

Success depends in a very large measure upon individual initiative and exertion, and cannot be achieved except by a dint of hard work

Pavlova is perhaps most renowned for creating the role of The Dying Swan, a solo choreographed for her by Michel Fokine. The ballet, created in 1905, is danced to Le cygne from The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns.

While touring in The Hague, Pavlova was told that she had pneumonia and required an operation. She was also told that she would never be able to dance again if she went ahead with it. She refused to have the surgery, saying “If I can’t dance then I’d rather be dead.” She died of pleurisy, three weeks short of her 50th birthday.

Anna Pavlova, costumed as The dying swan (5)

Anna Pavlova

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Anna Pavlova

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Anna Pavlova

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Anna Pavlova

Anna_Pavlova

Anna Pavlova

anna in her wedding dress

Anna Pavlova

The Dying Swan

The short ballet follows the last moments in the life of a swan, and was first presented in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1905. Pavlova performed the dance about 4,000 times. The ballet has since influenced modern interpretations of Odette in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and has inspired non-traditional interpretations and various adaptations.