Beautiful Turn of the Century Postcards by Rita Martin

Rita Martin (1875-1958) started her photographic career in 1897 when she helped her elder sister Lallie Charles to run her studio. In 1906 she opened her own studio, working in a similar studio to Charles, photographing subjects in pale colours against a pure white background, and focused on actresses such as Lily Elsie and Lily Brayton and child studies, particularly of Gladys Cooper’s two children.

Martin’s and Charles’ few surviving negatives were presented to the National Portrait Gallery by their niece Lallie Charles Martin in 1994.

NPG x131516; Dame Gladys Cooper by Rita Martin, published by  J. Beagles & Co

Dame Gladys Cooper

by Rita Martin, published by J. Beagles & Co
bromide postcard print, 1910. © National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x131515; Dame Gladys Cooper by Rita Martin, published by  J. Beagles & Co

Dame Gladys Cooper

by Rita Martin, published by J. Beagles & Co
bromide postcard print, 1910. © National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x131528; Lily Elsie (Mrs Bullough) by Rita Martin, published by  J. Beagles & Co

Lily Elsie (Mrs Bullough)

by Rita Martin, published by J. Beagles & Co
bromide postcard print, 1907. © National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x131530; Lily Elsie (Mrs Bullough) by Rita Martin, published by  J. Beagles & Co

Lily Elsie (Mrs Bullough)

by Rita Martin, published by J. Beagles & Co
bromide postcard print, 1907. © National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x131450; Lily Brayton as Katherine in 'The Taming of the Shrew' by Rita Martin

Lily Brayton as Katherine in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’

by Rita Martin
postcard print, 1904. © National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x131451; Lily Brayton as Katherine in 'The Taming of the Shrew' by Rita Martin, published by  Aristophot Co Ltd

Lily Brayton as Katherine in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’

by Rita Martin
postcard print, 1904. © National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x128831; Nora Kerin in 'The Prince and the Beggarmaid' by Rita Martin, published by  Rotary Photographic Co Ltd

Nora Kerin in ‘The Prince and the Beggarmaid’

by Rita Martin, published by Rotary Photographic Co Ltd
bromide postcard print, 1908. © National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x128832; Nora Kerin in 'The Prince and the Beggarmaid' by Rita Martin, published by  Rotary Photographic Co Ltd

Nora Kerin in ‘The Prince and the Beggarmaid’

by Rita Martin, published by Rotary Photographic Co Ltd
bromide postcard print, 1908. © National Portrait Gallery, London via

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Vintage Photos of Ingrid Bergman in Hitchcock´s Under Capricorn (1949)

Under Capricorn is, a 1949 British historical thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock, about a man who is in love with a woman who turns out to be an alcoholic. Hitchcock considered it to be one of his worst films. It was based on the novel Under Capricorn (1937) by Australian novelist and politician Helen Simpson.

The film is a mystery involving a love triangle, set in colonial Sydney, New South Wales, Australia during the 1830s. The new Governor, Sir Richard (Cecil Parker), arrives with his cheery but indolent nephew, the Honorable Charles Adare (Michael Wilding), who is invited to dinner by a local business man (Joseph Cotten) and discovers that he already knows his wife, Lady Henrietta (Ingrid Bergman). She is now a hopeless alcoholic who is socially shunned, but she used to be a good friend of Charles’ sister when they were children in Ireland.

The title “Under Capricorn” references the Tropic of Capricorn, which bisects Australia. Capricornus is a constellation; Capricorn is an astrological sign dominated by the goat, which is a symbol of sexual desire.

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Publicity shot of Ingrid Bergman and Michael Wilding in “Under Capricorn” (1949)

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Publicity shot of Ingrid Bergman and Michael Wilding in “Under Capricorn” (1949)

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Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, Michael Wilding in “Under Capricorn” (1949)

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Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, Michael Wilding in “Under Capricorn” (1949)

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Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, Michael Wilding in “Under Capricorn” (1949)

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Late Victorian Fancy Dress: The Devonshire House Ball in 1897

The Devonshire House Costume Ball of 1897 was one of the most anticipated social events of 1897. To stress the importance of th magnificent affair, the London Photographic Firm Lafayette was invited to take studio-style photographs of the guests in their costumes, which ranged from mythical goddesses, figures from paintings, and historical kings and queens.

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The Duke of York, later King George V (1865-1936), as “The Queen’s Champion” and the Duchess of York, later Queen Mary (1867-1953)  as “a Lady at the Court of Marguerite de Valois” at the Devonshire House Fancy Dress Ball 1897.

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Frances Evelyn (Daisy), the countess of Warwick, chose Marie Antoinette as her costume for the elegant and highly anticipated evening. The costume, made by Worth of Paris, was studded with real diamonds and used both gold and antique lace.

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Lady Randolph Churchill (1854-1921), née Jennie Jerome in a Worth Parisian Costume, as Empress Theodora, while attending the Devonshire House Ball, in 1897.

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Consuelo Marlborough (née Vanderbilt), dressed for the Devonshire House Ball in 1897.

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Mary Teresa (‘Daisy’) (Cornwallis-West), Princess of Pless dressed as Queen of Sheba for the Devonshire House Ball

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Miss Goelet as Scheherazade

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The ethereal beauty of Mrs J Graham Menzies in the role of Titania, Queen of the Fairies

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Gabrielle Ray as Frou Frou in The Merry Widow (1907)

In the first decade of the 20th century, Gabrielle Ray (1883 – 1973) had a good career in musical theatre, she was considered one of the most beautiful actresses on the London stage, and became one of the most photographed women in the world.

In 1907, Ray played Frou Frou in The Merry Widow, which became a sensation. The operetta starred Lily Elsie, Joseph Coyne and Robert Evett, with costumes by Lucile. It ran for 778 performances in London and toured extensively in Great Britain.

Ray’s dance number, complete with handstands and high kicks, all performed on a table at Maxim’s held head high by four men, was a show stopper.

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Gabrielle Ray as “Frou Frou” in “The Merry Widow” 1907. Costumes by Lucile.

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Gabrielle Ray as “Frou Frou” in “The Merry Widow” 1907. Costumes by Lucile.

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Gabrielle Ray as “Frou Frou” and mr. W. Berry in “The Merry Widow” 1907. Costumes by Lucile.

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Lily Elsie in the operetta The Merry Widow (Dressed by Lucile)

Lily Elsie (8 April 1886 – 16 December 1962) was a popular English actress and singer during the Edwardian era, best known for her starring role in the hit London premiere of Franz Lehár’s operetta The Merry Widow.

Early 20th-century fashion designer Lucile designed the costumes (including the plumed hats that became an extraordinary fad) and thereafter used Elsie to promote her fashions, designing her personal clothes and costumes for several of her other shows.

Lucile later wrote:

“I realised that here was a girl who had both beauty and intelligence but who had never learnt how to make the best of herself. So shy and diffident was she in those days that a less astute producer than George Edwardes would in all probability have passed her over and left her in the chorus.”

The production opened in June 1907 and ran for 778 performances at Daly’s Theatre. The show was an enormous success for its creators and made Elsie a major star.

Lily Elsie in The Merry Widow dressed by Lucile, 1907

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NPG x135274; Lily Elsie (Mrs Bullough) as Sonia in 'The Merry Widow' by Foulsham & Banfield, published by Rotary Photographic Co Ltd

Lily Elsie in The Merry Widow dressed by Lucile (1907)

by Foulsham & Banfield

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NPG Ax160392; Lily Elsie (Mrs Bullough) as Sonia and Joseph Coyne as Prince Danilo in 'The Merry Widow' by Foulsham & Banfield, published by Rotary Photographic Co Ltd

Lily Elsie as Sonia and Joseph Coyne as Prince Danilo in ‘The Merry Widow’ (1907) by Foulsham & Banfield

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© National Portrait Gallery, London

Ziegfeld Follies Girls – Vintage Photos

The Ziegfeld Follies were a series of elaborate theatrical productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 through 1931. It was founded by Florenz Ziegfeld and his wife Anna Held in 1907  – the inspiration was the Parisian Folies Bergère.

The Ziegfeld Follies were also famous for many beautiful chorus girls commonly known as Ziegfeld girls, usually wearing elaborate costumes by designers such as Erté, Lady Duff Gordon or Ben Ali Haggin.

Ziegfeld girl, Marion Benda c. 1920’s

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The Follies circa 1920. Photograph by Édouard Boubat

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Lilyan Tashman performing in Ziegfeld follies

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Ziegfeld Follies by Alfred Cheney Johnston

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Ziegfeld Girl Mary Eaton by Alfred Cheney Johnston

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Mary Pickford by Alfred Cheney Johnston

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Ziegfeld Follies

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Ziegfeld Follies

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Ziegfield Follies, photo by Alfred Cheney Johnston

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Ziegfield Follies, photo by Alfred Cheney Johnston

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Innovative Edwardian Fashion Photos by London Designer Lucile

Lucy Christiana, Lady Duff-Gordon (née Sutherland) (1863 –1935) was best known by her professional name “Lucile”. Who was at the beginning of the twentieth century one of the most innovative, forward thinking designers. Much like her contemporary, Paul Poiret, she designed clothes for the modern woman. She launched liberating slit skirts and low necklines, popularized less restrictive corsets, and promoted alluring, pared-down lingerie.

She originated the “mannequin parade”, a precursor to the modern fashion show, and trained the first professional models who were almost as famous as she was. She gave them poetic names, like Hebe, Corisande and Dolores.

She opened branches of her London house, Lucile Ltd, in Paris, New York City and Chicago, dressing a trend-setting clientele of royalty, nobility, and stage and film personalities. Some well-known clients, whose clothing influenced many when it appeared in early films, on stage, and in the press, included: Irene Castle, Lily Elsie,Gertie Millar, Gaby Deslys, Billie Burke, and Mary Pickford.

Lucile costumed many theatrical productions including the London première of Franz Lehár’s operetta The Merry Widow (1907), the Ziegfeld Follies revues on Broadway (1915–21), and the D. W. Griffith silent movie Way Down East (1920). Her fashions were also frequently featured in Pathé and Gaumont newsreels of the 1910s and 20s, and she appeared in her own weekly spot in the British newsreel “Around the Town” (c. 1917–1919)

Lucy Duff Gordon is also remembered as a survivor of the sinking of Titanic in 1912.

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Lady Lucy Duff Gordon with her dogs by Marceau

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Lily Elsie in The Merry Widow, 1909, costume by Lucile

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Lily Elsie, shown here in a costume designed by Gordon for a 1909 play called “The Dollar Princess.”

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A model in a dress by Lucile (Lady Duff Gordon), ca. 1912.

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1921 Lucile evening gown of a black chantilly lace hoop over a white satin slip, shown at the National Retail Garment Association Fashion Show at the Hotel Commodore, NYC. From Ebay.

1921 Lucile evening gown of a black chantilly lace hoop over a white satin slip,

shown at the National Retail Garment Association Fashion Show at the Hotel Commodore, NYC.

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