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

 

 

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Belle Epoque Beauty Geneviève Lantelme – Two Early Photographs by Reutlinger

Geneviève Lantelme (b. 1883) was a French stage actress, socialite, fashion icon and courtesan; she was considered by her contemporaries to be one of the most beautiful women of the Belle Epoque.

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Geneviève Lantelme by Léopold-Émile Reutlinger (1900s)

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Geneviève Lantelme by Léopold-Émile Reutlinger (1900s)

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Actress and Socialite Lillie Langtry (1853 – 1929) – Photos

Lillie Langtry (1853 – 1929), usually spelled Lily Langtry in the United States, born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton, was initially celebrated as a young woman for her beauty and charm, and later established a reputation as an actress and producer. In May 1877, Lady Sebright invited her to “an evening at home”, attended by some of the famous artists of the day. Her looks—together with her ability to enchant those in her company—attracted interest, comments, and invitations from artists and society hostesses.

By 1881, she had become an actress and starred in many plays, including She Stoops to Conquer, The Lady of Lyons, and As You Like It, eventually running her own stage production company. In later life she performed “dramatic sketches” in vaudeville. She was also known for her relationships with noblemen, including the Prince of Wales, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and Prince Louis of Battenberg. She was the subject of widespread public and media interest.

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Lillie Langtry photographed by William Downey August 1885

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Lillie Langtree

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Lillie Langtry, famous English actress, 1884

 Lillie Langtry, 1884

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Lillie Langtry, 1882, in matching turban and dress.

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Lillie Langtry, 1881

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Evelyn Laye – Beauty and Celebrated Star of London´s Stage Musicals and Operettas

Evelyn Laye (1900 – 1996) was an English theatre and musical film actress, who was active on the London light opera stage.

Born as Elsie Evelyn Lay in Bloomsbury, London, and known professionally as Evelyn Laye, and informally as Boo. Her parents were both actors and her father a theatre manager. She made her first stage appearance in August 1915 at the Theatre Royal,Brighton as Nang-Ping in Mr. Wu, and her first London appearance at the East Ham Palace on 24 April 1916, aged 16, in the revueHoni Soit, in which she subsequently toured.

For the first few years of her career she mainly played in musical comedy and operetta, including Going Up in 1918. Among her successes during the 1920s were Phi-Phi (1922), Madame Pompadour (1923), The Dollar Princess, Blue Eyes (1928) and Lilac Time. She made her Broadway debut in 1929 in the American première of Noël Coward’s Bitter Sweet and appeared in several early Hollywood film musicals. She continued acting in pantomimes such as The Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.

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Evelyn Laye

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Evelyn Laye

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ziegfeld star - evelyn laye (aka boo laye) - by Alfred Cheney Johnston

Evelyn Laye

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Evelyn Laye (aka Boo Laye) - c. 1915-1920s

Evelyn Laye

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Evelyn Laye

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Ziegfeld Model - Non-Risque - by Alfred Cheney Johnston

Evelyn Laye

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Bille Dove – The American Beauty

Billie Dove (1903-1997) was in her heyday known for her voluptuous femininity on the silent screen, rivaled that of Mary Pickford, Marion Davies and Clara Bow in popularity. She retired after only a few years into the talking picture era, however, and is not as well-remembered in today’s film circles as the aforementioned.

She was born Bertha Bohny to Swiss immigrant parents. As a teen, she worked as a model to help support her family and was hired as a teenager by Florenz “Flo” Ziegfeld to appear in his Ziegfeld Follies Revue.

However, a burgeoning affair between Dove and Ziegfeld prompted Ziegfeld’s wife Billie Burke to arrange work out West for the young starlet in Hollywood films. She soon became one of the most popular actresses of the 1920s, appearing in Douglas Fairbanks’ smash hit Technicolor film The Black Pirate (1926), as Rodeo West in The Painted Angel (1929), and was dubbed The American Beauty (1927), the title of one of her films.

She married the director of her seventh film, Irvin Willat, in 1923. The two divorced in 1929. Dove had a huge legion of male fans, one of her most persistent being Howard Hughes. She shared a three-year romance with Hughes and was engaged to marry him, but she ended the relationship without ever giving cause. Hughes cast her as a comedian in his film Cock of the Air (1932). She also appeared in his movie The Age for Love (1931).

Following her last film, Blondie of the Follies (1932), Dove retired from the screen to be with her family, although she was at the time still popular. She married oil executive Robert Kenaston in 1933.

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Billie Dove as a Ziegfield Follies Girl, by Alfred Cheney Johnston

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Billie Dove as a Ziegfield Follies Girl by Alfred Cheney Johnston

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Billie Dove

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Billie Dove as a Bride

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Billie Dove

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Billie Dove

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Billæie Dove in Blondie of the Follies, her last film (1932)

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Billie Dove (Reprise)

Wonderful Vintage Photos of Curvy Beauty Lillian Russell

Lillian Russell (1860– 1922) became one of the most famous actresses and singers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, known for her beauty and style, as well as for her voice and stage presence.

For many years, Russell was the foremost singer of operettas in America. Her voice, stage presence and beauty were the subject of a great deal of fanfare in the news media, and she was extremely popular with audiences. Actress Marie Dressler observed,

“I can still recall the rush of pure awe that marked her entrance on the stage. And then the thunderous applause that swept from orchestra to gallery, to the very roof.”

When Alexander Graham Bell introduced long distance telephone service on May 8, 1890, Russell’s voice was the first carried over the line.

Russsel had a  flamboyant personal life and was married four times. She married composer Edward Solomon in 1884 and created roles in several of his operas in London, but in 1886 he was arrested for bigamy. Her longest relationship was with Diamond Jim Brady, who supported her extravagant lifestyle for four decades.

A 1940 film was made about Russell, although it presents a sanitized version of her life.

Lillian Russel via victorianfashion.soup.io

Lillian Russell via bodylovewellness.com/

Lillian Russel via judgmentofparis.com

Lillian Russell via ekduncan.com

Lillian Russell via judgmentofparis.com

Lillian Russell via judgmentofparis.com

Lillian Russell as fortune teller via primarysourcenexus.org

Jane Elizabeth Digby (1807-1881): Scandalous English Aristocrat

Jane Elizabeth Digby, Lady Ellenborough (1807 – 1881) was an English aristocrat who lived a scandalous life of romantic adventure, spanning decades and two continents.

A well known beauty, she married her first husband, Edward Law, 2nd Baron Ellenborough (later Earl of Ellenborough), in 1824, at age 15. He was twice her age.

Lady Jane was notoriously promiscuous, and her marriage to the Earl did not last. After divorcing him she moved to Munich with Felix, Prince Schwarzenberg, an Austrian diplomat who resigned his position at the London Embassy to be with her. When Prince Felix decided not to marry her, she married Baron Venningen-Ulner, with whom she had a child.

When Lady Jane’s husband caught her in an affair with Count Spyridon Theotoky of Greece he challenged the Count to a duel. After winning the duel and wounding Count Theotoky, Baron Venningen released her from the marriage, and their relationship remained friendly. She married Theotoky, moved to Athens, and had a child with him, but divorced him after the accidental death of their 6 year old son. An involvement with an Albanian general ended when he was unfaithful to her.

At age forty-six, Jane travelled to the Middle East, and fell in love with Sheik Abdul Medjuel el Mezrab (also known as Sheikh Abdul Mijwal Al Mezrab in accounts by contemporary Western travellers in Syria). Abdul Medjuel was a sheik of the Mezrab section of the Sba’a, a well-known sub-tribe of the great ‘Anizzah tribe of Syria’.

Although he was twenty years her junior, the two were married under Muslim law and she took the name Jane Elizabeth Digby el Mezrab. Their marriage was a happy one and lasted until her death 28 years later.

Jane adopted Arab dress and learned Arabic in addition to the other eight languages in which she was fluent. Half of each year was spent in the nomadic style, living in goat-hair tents in the desert, while the rest was enjoyed in a palatial villa that she had built in Damascus.

She spent the rest of her life in that city, where she befriended Richard and Isabel Burton while he was the British consul, and Abd al-Kader al-Jazairi, a prominent exiled leader of the Algerian revolution.

She died of fever and dysentery in Damascus on 11 August 1881, and was buried in the Protestant Cemetery there. When she died, Medjuel rode her favourite horse to her funeral in the cemetery in Damascus. Her grave may still be seen today.

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Lady Jane Elizabeth

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Jane Elizabeth, Countess of Ellenborough, by Sir George Hayter, circa 1825 - NPG 883(10) - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Jane Elizabeth, when she was Countess of Ellenborough

by Sir George Hayter
pencil and watercolour, circa 1825

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© National Portrait Gallery, London

Jane Elizabeth, Countess of Ellenborough, by Maxim Gauci, after  Unknown artist, 1831 - NPG D2302 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Jane Elizabeth, when she was Countess of Ellenborough

by Maxim Gauci, after Unknown artist
lithograph, 1831

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Jane Elizabeth, Countess of Ellenborough, by Thomas Wright, published by  Whittaker & Co, and published by  Martin Colnaghi, after  Henry Collen, published June 1829 - NPG D6861 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Jane Elizabeth, Countess of Ellenborough

by Thomas Wright, published by Whittaker & Co, and published by Martin Colnaghi, after Henry Collen
stipple engraving, published June 1829

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© National Portrait Gallery, London