Extraordinary Vintage Photos of The American Circus by Frederick W. Glasier

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Queen, the High Diving Horse, Brockton Fair, Massachusetts, circa 1899 via

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Joan of Arc, circa 1912 via

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Ella Bradna, Equestrian, circa 1903 via

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Loie Fuller, Glorine, Butterfly Dancer, 1902 via

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Charmion, Strong Woman, 1904 via

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Nettie Carrol, circa 1904 via

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Annette Kellerman, circa 1907 via

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Gertrude Dewar, Mademoiselle Omega, Brockton Fair, Massachusetts, 1908 via

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Mademoiselle Scheel with Lions, circa 1905 via

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Living Statues, circa 1905 via

A Collection of Photos feat. Mucha Models

In 1887 while studying, Czech painter and decorative artist, Alphonse  Mucha (1860 – 1939) moved to Paris. There he, in addition to studying, worked at producing magazine and advertising illustrations. About Christmas 1894, Mucha happened to go into a print shop where there was a sudden and unexpected need for a new advertising poster for a play featuring Sarah Bernhardt. Mucha volunteered to produce a lithographed poster within two weeks, and on 1 January 1895, the advertisement for the play Gismonda by Victorien Sardou was posted in the city, where it attracted much attention. Bernhardt was so satisfied with the success of this first poster that she began a six-year contract with Mucha. His style was given international exposure by the 1900 Universal Exhibition in Paris, of which Mucha said:

“I think [the Exposition Universelle] made some contribution toward bringing aesthetic values into arts and crafts.”

Mucha produced a flurry of paintings, posters, advertisements, and book illustrations, as well as designs for jewelry, carpets, wallpaper, and theatre sets in what was termed initially The Mucha Style but became known as Art Nouveau (French for “new art”). Mucha’s works frequently featured beautiful young women in flowing, vaguely Neoclassical-looking robes, often surrounded by lush flowers which sometimes formed halos behind their heads. In contrast with contemporary poster makers he used pale pastel colors.

Mucha’s work has continued to experience periodic revivals of interest for illustrators and artists. Interest in hiss distinctive style experienced a strong revival during the 1960s, with a general interest in all things Art Nouveau.

 

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Alphonse  Mucha, Study for a Decorative Panel, 1908 via

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Alphonse Marie Mucha. Model posing in Mucha’s studio rue du Val de Grâce  © Mucha Foundation via

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Alphonse  Mucha. Model posing in Mucha’s studio rue du Val de Grâce  © Mucha Trust
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Alphonse Marie Mucha. Model posing in Mucha’s studio rue du Val de Grâce via

1900 The Precious Stones 4b photographic study in Mucha's stdio Rue du Val de Gra_ce, Paris _ Mucha Trust

 The Precious Stones photographic study in Mucha’s stdio Rue du Val de Grâce, 1900, Paris © Mucha Trust via

03 c1900 Portrait of a Lady photographic study in Mucha’s studio, Rue du Val de Grâce, Paris © Mucha Trust

Portrait of a Lady photographic study in Mucha’s studio, Rue du Val de Grâce, ca. 1900, Paris © Mucha Trust via

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Photographic study © Alphonse Mucha Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris via

16 Photgraphic study for 'Truth'

Photographic study for ‘Truth’ © Alphonse Mucha Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris via

Vintage Photos of French Salon Queen Comtesse Greffulhe (1860-1952)

Aristocrat, Élisabeth, Comtesse Greffulhe (1860 – 1952) was a renowned beauty and queen of the salons of the Faubourg Saint-Germain in Paris. She was the daughter of Joseph de Riquet de Caraman and his wife Marie de Montesquiou-Fezensac. In 1881 she married the unfaithful, quick-tempered Henri, Count Greffulhe (1848-1932), of the Belgian family of bankers. The comtesse has been described in these words:

“The Comtesse Greffulhe is always beautiful and always elsewhere. But it would be a mistake to think that her life was merely the pursuit of pleasure (…) not only is she beautiful, but she is a lady. Preferring the privacy of her own house in the rue d’Astorg and at Bois-Boudran in the country, the Comtesse Greffulhe never dined out except at the British Embassy. When Edward VII came to Paris, he dined informally at her house. After a restricted youth (…) she set herself to attracting musicians, scholars, physicists, chemists, doctors.”

She regularly entertained the cream of Parisian society at her salon in the rue d’Astorg. The comtesse helped establish the art of James Whistler, and she actively promoted such artists as Auguste Rodin, Antonio de La Gandara and Gustave Moreau.

She was the inspiration for the Duchess of Guermantes in Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, she regularly ordered – notably from Worth – sumptuous outfits that highlighted her splendid waist. She was a patron of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets russes, and launched a fashion for greyhound racing.

Fascinated by science, she helped Marie Curie to finance the creation of the Institute of Radium, and Edouard Branly to pursue his researches on radiotransmission and telemechanical systems.

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Comtesse Greffulhe photographed by Otto Wegener (around 1886)

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Comtesse Greffulhe  wearing a ball gown photographed by Otto Wegener (ca. 1887) via

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Comtesse Greffulhe looking sideways photographed by Félix Nadar, 1900 via

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Comtesse Greffulhe shows off her bare shoulder and, fashionably semi-concealed, her striking figure in a turn-of-the-century dress via

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In this puzzling image, Comtesse Greffulhe  is seen embracing her own double. The Comtesse wears an elaborate dress with decorated blouson bodice and swirling fabric and a simple dress that could be worn today, 1899 via

 

 

Pictorialism from the Turn-of the-Century Photo-Secession Movement

The Photo-Secession was an early-20th-century movement that promoted photography as a fine art.

A group of photographers, led by Alfred Stieglitz and F. Holland Day in the early 1900s, held the then controversial viewpoint that what was significant about a photograph was not what was in front of the camera but the manipulation of the image by the artist/photographer to achieve his or her subjective vision.

The movement helped to raise standards and awareness of art photography. Proponents of Pictorialism, which was the underlying value of the Photo-Secession, argued that photography needed to emulate the painting and etching of the time. Pictorialists believed that, just as a painting is distinctive because of the artist’s manipulation of the materials to achieve an effect, so too should the photographer alter or manipulate the photographic image. Among the methods used were soft focus; special filters and lens coatings; burning, dodging and/or cropping in the darkroom to edit the content of the image; and alternative printing processes such as sepia toning, carbon printing, platinum printing or gum bichromate processing.

The “membership” of the Photo-Secession varied according to Stieglitz’s interests and temperament but was centered around the core group of Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Clarence H. White, Gertrude Käsebier, Frank Eugene, F. Holland Day, and later Alvin Langdon Coburn.

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 Mending Nets by Alfred Stieglitz. Carbon print, 1894 via

 

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 “A Study” by Gertrude Käsebier. Platinum print, ca. 1898 via

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By Clarence H. White, 1871 via

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Actress Minnie Maddern Fiske by Fred Holland Day, created ca. 1895-1912 via

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The Brass Bowl by Edward Steichen. Photogravure on tissue-thin Japan paper. Literature: Camera Work 14, 1906 via

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Minuet by Frank Eugene, Photogravure on tissue-thin Japan paper. Literature: Camera Work 30, 1910 via

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 The Bubble by Alvin Langdon Coburn. Gum bichromate over platinum print, 1908 via 

Beautiful Edwardian Era Photos of “Dollar Princess”Consuelo Vanderbilt

Consuelo Vanderbilt (1877 – 1964), was a member of the prominent American Vanderbilt family. Born in New York City, she was the only daughter and eldest child of New York railroad millionaire William Kissam Vanderbilt, and his first wife, budding suffragist, Alva Erskine Smith. By the time she she’d made her debut in 1895, she possessed $20 million (ca. $4 billion today). Her marriage to Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough became an international emblem of the socially advantageous, but loveless, marriages common during the Gilded Age.

It was only a matter of time before their marriage was in name only. The Duke of Marlborough married Consuelo Vanderbilt so he could preserve the family seat Blenheim Palace. The duchess eventually was smitten by her husband’s handsome cousin, the Hon. Reginald Fellowes (the liaison did not last, to the relief of Fellowes’s parents), while the duke fell under the spell of Gladys Marie Deacon, an eccentric American of little money but, like Consuelo, dazzling to look at and of considerable intellect. The Marlboroughs separated in 1906, divorced in 1921, and the marriage was annulled, at the duke’s request and with Consuelo’s assent, on 19 August 1926.

Consuelo’s second marriage, on 4 July 1921, was to Lt. Col. Jacques Balsan, a record-breaking pioneer French balloon, aircraft, and hydroplane pilot who once worked with the Wright Brothers. Also a textile manufacturing heir, Balsan was a younger brother of Etienne Balsan, who was an important early lover of Coco Chanel. Jacques Balsan died in 1956 at the age of 88.

During the second decade of the 20th Century she was a leading champion of women’s rights and child welfare causes.

Consuelo Balsan published her insightful but not entirely candid autobiography, The Glitter and the Gold, in 1953. It was ghostwritten by Stuart Preston, an American writer who was an art critic for The New York Times. A reviewer in the New York Times called it “an ideal epitaph of the age of elegance.”

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Wedding via

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Consuelo Vanderbilt (From the USA Library of Congress Bain collection) via

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Consuelo Vanderbilt via

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Consuelo Vanderbilt by Lafayette, 1899 via

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Consuelo Vanderbilt, the Duchess of Marlborough, 1911 via

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Consuelo Vanderbilt, Duchess of Marlborough with her sons John Albert William Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blanford (later 10th Duke of Marlborough) and Lord Ivor Charles Spencer-Churchill by Rita Martin via

Ziegfeld Girl Anna Held

Helene Held  (1872 – 1918) was a Polish-born French stage performer and singer, most often associated with impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, her common-law husband.

Touring through Europe, Held was appearing in London in 1896 when she met Florenz Ziegfeld. Ziegfeld asked her to return to New York City with him and she agreed. He set about creating a wave of public interest in her, by feeding stories about her to the American press, such as her having had ribs surgically removed.

From 1905, Held enjoyed several successes on Broadway which, apart from bolstering Ziegfeld’s fortune, made her a millionaire in her own right. Ziegfeld’s talent for creating publicity stunts ensured that Held’s name remained well known. Held suggested the format for what would eventually become the famous Ziegfeld Follies in 1907, and helped Ziegfeld establish the most lucrative phase of his career.

In 1909, Ziegfeld began an affair with the actress Lillian Lorraine; Held remained hopeful that his fascination would pass and he would return to her, but instead he turned his attentions to another actress Billie Burke, whom he would marry in 1914.

The film The Great Ziegfeld (1936) tells a sanitized version of the story of the Ziegfeld-Held relationship. Luise Rainer won an Academy Award for her performance as Held.

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Anna Held via

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Anna Held

A Collection of Vintage Photos featuring Princesse Clara Ward

The story of Clara Ward (1873 – 1916) is poorly known today, but in the early 1890s she was the toast of the United States.

She came to the public’s attention in 1889 or early 1890 when it was announced that the distinguished Belgian visitor to the United States, Marie Joseph Anatole Pierre Alphonse de Riquet, Prince de Caraman-Chimay, a member of the Belgian Chamber of Deputies, had proposed marriage to the very young, very attractive daughter of a very wealthy family.

That her husband-to-be was more than twice her age, quite poor, and even, perhaps, not very handsome, seems to have been of minor consequence.

They were married on 19 May 1890, in fin-de-siècle Paris. Ward was now properly styled “Princesse de Caraman-Chimay”, but usually went by “Clara, Princess of Chimay”. Americans were ecstatic about their new princess.

Some time after the birth of their second child, probably in 1896, the Prince and Princess Chimay were dining in Paris, at what may be expected to have been a suitably elegant establishment. Present at the restaurant was a Hungarian, Rigó Jancsi, who eked out a living providing Gypsy music.

After a series of secret meetings, Ward and Rigó eloped in December 1896. The Prince and Princesse de Caraman-Chimay were divorced on 19 January 1897. The new couple married, probably in Hungary.

Not too surprisingly, Clara Ward, still usually called the Princess Chimay, soon found her resources dwindling. The never-very-full Chimay coffers were certainly closed to her, and although Ward was resourceful, her American family had to intervene from time to time to straighten out her tangled finances.

Her main talents were being beautiful by the standards of the time, and being famous. She combined the two by posing on various stages, including at least the Folies Bergère and probably also the Moulin Rouge, while wearing skin-tight costumes. She called her art-form her poses plastiques.

Perhaps the income from this odd occupation was sufficient for the couple to live reasonably well. The idyll was not to last, Rigó being unfaithful to her. They were divorced fairly soon after their marriage, either shortly before or after Ward met her next true love, one Peppino Ricciardo, sometimes stated to have been Spanish, but who was most likely Italian. He is believed to have been a waiter whom she met on a train.

They married in 1904, but Peppino Ricciardo probably did not last long. The timing is vague, but Ward’s next true love, and her last husband, is thought to have been a station manager of the little Italian railroad that helped visitors tour Mount Vesuvius, a Signore Cassalota. Ward is believed to have still been married to her fourth husband when she died in Padua, Italy, on 9 December 1916, aged 43. There was a rumor that she died a pauper with nothing left except a few jewels. But the American Consul at Venice stated publicly that she “was in possesion of a very large income and lived in a manner befitting its possessor

In her lifetime she had spent much time in both the society and gossip columns of two continents. She had been widely known, envied and admired, desired, loathed and reviled. She was often photographed, and featured on many postcards during the Edwardian period, sometimes in a pose plastique and sometimes in more or less conventional dress.

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A young Clara Ward

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Clara Ward, postcard via

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Clara Ward, Postcard via

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Clara ward via

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Clara Ward, Postcard via

Clara Ward with Rigo Jancsi – Triomphe de la Femme, 1905 via

Clara Ward, by Léopold-Emile Reutlinger, ca. 1905 via

 

Early Film Dancer Annabelle Moore (1878-1961)

Annabelle Moore (1878 – 1961) was an American dancer and actress who was quite popular in her youth. She appeared in at least nine films beween 1894 and 1897. The films were dance films and included “A Mermaid Dance”, “Butterfly Dance” and “Serpentine Dance”.

The sale of her films was further boosted in December 1896 when it was revealed that she had been approached to appear naked at a private dinner party at Sherry’s Restaurant – It is even said she introduced eroticism in film.

In 1907 Annabelle starred as the Gibson Bathing Girl in the first of  the Ziegfeld Follies.

In 1910 she married Edward James Buchan. He died in 1958 and Annabelle died penniless in Chicago in 1961. In her obituary in the New York Times it was said Annabelle:

“was the symbol of beauty in her day. She was billed as ‘the original Gibson Girl’ because of her striking resemblance to the Charles Dana Gibson portrait.”

Annabelle had a similar appearance to the Gibson Girl.  But as far as Gibson modeling his idealization of the perfect woman on Annabelle, there is little evidence that he did (source).

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Annabelle Moore, 1900s via

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Annabelle Moore, 1908 via

Annabelle Butterfly Dance (1894)