The odor of pomegranates

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Zaida Ben-Yusuf :: The odor of pomegranates (detail), 1899. Platinum print.
Zaida Ben-Yusuf :: Detail from ‘The odor of pomegranates’, ca. 1900. | original src Library of Congress

Zaida Ben-Yusuf :: The odor of pomegranates, 1899. Platinum photographic print mounted on dark green paper. Description: Photograph shows a woman wearing a long flowing gown, standing in front of curtain, facing left, holding a pomegranate. | src Library of Congress
Zaida Ben-Yusuf :: The odor of pomegranates, 1899. Platinum photographic print mounted on dark green paper. Description: Photograph shows a woman wearing a long flowing gown, standing in front of curtain, facing left, holding a pomegranate. | src Library of Congress

The Odor of Pomegranates is more than simply a portrait, the image represents Ben-Yusuf’s effort to use photography to explore a larger theme: in this case, the seductiveness and potential danger of something desirous.

Ben-Yusuf’s artistic explorations within the tradition of portraiture continued alongside her commercial work. One of the prints she felt was more successful was The Odor, a work that she exhibited on at least half a dozen occasions in the years immediately after its completion in 1899. No other photograph by her was displayed or reproduced as often. This…

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Maud Allan by Alfred Nybom

Alfred Nybom :: Maud Allan, carbon print, 1905 | Collection of the Finnish Museum of Photography
Alfred Nybom :: Nuori nainen (Young woman) · Maud Allan, hiilivedos (carbon print), 1905 | src Suomen valokuvataiteen museon kokoelmaCollection of the Finnish Museum of Photography
Alfred Nybom :: Maud Allan, carbon print, 1905 | Collection of the Finnish Museum of Photography
Alfred Nybom :: Maud Allan, carbon print, 1905 | Collection of the Finnish Museum of Photography

Ethereal, fragile, clean, innocent, like an ancient muse. An unnamed beauty in portraits taken by Alfred Nybom in Berlin in the early 20th century. The descriptions I could have previously combined with these familiar collection now seem foreign, stale, and deadly boring. What would a bohemian sex symbol, a queer in Edwardian England, a versatile, controversial and intelligent, and scandalous artist sound like?
I may not have viewed the woman in the picture as an individual in the past, but she represented an archetype: a dreamlike and allegorical female figure in Belle Époque’s pictorialist photography. The generalized impression was shattered when the museum was contacted by a collector interested in theatrical photographs. That person had read about our Nybom collection. She said the woman in Nybom’s picture was Maud Allan.
At the museum, of course, we rejoiced when the iconic image got its name. At the same time, getting to know Allan’s life story changed my own attitude towards these images.
Beulah Maude Durrant was born in Toronto, Canada in 1873. In 1895, Durrant’s brother was convicted of the brutal murder of two young women. He was executed three years later. Durrant’s mother was a repressive figure whose incestal love for her son has long been rumored. To distance himself from his family, Durrant changed his name to Maud Allan and went across the Atlantic to Berlin to study to be a pianist.
Allan’s career as a pianist and opera singer was short and miserable, but she immediately adapted to the bohemian circles of Berlin and supported herself, among other things, by designing corsets and illustrating a sex guide for women. Allan didn’t find her self-expression in dance until he was 27 years old. Modern dance was a new and free art form that did not require lifelong practice. Allan developed an expression that revived, in her own words, the dance traditions of ancient Greece and the feminine movement in Renaissance paintings.
Allan wrote her memoir My Life and Dancing, which at the same time was a dissertation on dance as an art, in 1908. Herautobiography reflects a passionate approach to art, extensive reading, a sense of humor and a sharp intelligence. Allan spoke of her attitude towards dancing as a noble pure expression of emotion. At the same time, she completely ignored the controversial side associated with her personality. For example, she did not comment on the eroticism of her dance style.
Allan became known for her role as the greatest of the femme fatale, Salome, the seductress of the Bible. She identified with Salome and felt that she was essentially an innocent child suffering from her mother’s sins. Allan’s dance toward catharsis: breaking away from her difficult motherhood and bloody family history. Her masterpiece, the Shamelessly Sensual and Sexy Salome’s Vision (1906), based on thorough research, was a success. Allan had designed her own performance outfit.
Salome’s Vision also sparked protests over its eroticism, but with a few exceptions, the show avoided censorship. Allan managed to meet the needs of the time and combined oriental exoticism, eroticism, and high culture in a salon-friendly way. In 1907, after seeing Allan’s performance, King Edward himself invited Allan to England, where she lived for the next decade.
In her autobiography, Allan still wrote that most of the opposition and criticism she experienced came from other women. With the patriarchal control and repression of male sexuality by men, Allan came to face it in all its creepy in an episode that ruined her career.

Noel Pemberton Billing, a Member of Parliament, a champion of the moral purity of British society, published a paranoid and outrageous attack in the nationalist Imperialist newspaper in December 1917, with British war success at stake. According to Pemberton Billing, war enemy Germany was under the control of homosexuals. England, on the other hand, was full of spies who belonged to the secret society of German “spiritualists, whores, and homosexuals”. Maud Allan was among the named perverts. She had a relationship with the wife of the former British Liberal Prime Minister, according to Pemberton Billing, and the entire trio were minions of the enemy. Pemberton Billing, who himself had a German wife, continued on the obscene line when he wrote about Oscar Wilde’s play in 1918, in which Allan again performed Salome. After a performance in Paris, he painted threatening images of a “clitoris cult” of lesbian spies, claiming that the enemies of the state were at the forefront of Allan’s shameless performance.
The only true to the accusations was that Allan did indeed have a intimate relationships with both men and women. Engaged in Germany, even engaged to a German sculptor, the bisexual and “fallen woman” who had connections to the politicians of the other party was a great target.

Allan sued Pemberton Billing for defamation. Surprisingly, he found himself on the defensive. The accused had excavated Allan’s grim family history and also considered this brother’s offense to be aggravating Allan’s identity. After revealing the painful secrets, Pemberton Billing asked the shocked Allan if she knew what the word clitoris meant. Allan’s positive response was taken as clear evidence of her sexual anomaly. Luckily, Pemberton Billing didn’t know Allan had drawn clitoris to a German sex guide 18 years earlier. The trial became a nutty circus, with no room for all the twists and turns in this context. Allan was witnessed by Oscar Wilde’s former, bitter lover, who sought revenge by dragging Wilde’s play into the bottom line. In addition, the slandered liberal politicians hired a young female agent to seduce Pemberton Billing and lead him to a brothel but failed. The agent fell in love with the attractive Pemberton Billing, changed sides and lied in favor of him in her testimony in court. Pemberton Billing was acquitted of all charges. The decision was made in the courtroom with shouts of joy as the women waved their handkerchiefs and the men threw their hats in the air.
The Salome mania of the early 20th century was over and the career of the disgraced Maud Allan collapsed. The aging female artist, known for her appearance, had no chance of re-creating herself. According to Allan’s biographer, she became a disappointed, useless, lying, exploitative, and even sadistic diva who lived a delusional life unable to let go of the glory of her youth. Maud Allan died almost forgotten in 1956 in the United States.
We will never see these images again as before. The museum lost an unnamed and clean archetype, but was replaced by something much more interesting.

Roughly translated by us from source: Toisenlainen taiteilijakohtalo

Any correction, amend, or hint will be appreciated.

Helen MacGowan Cooke, 1906-11

Arnold Genthe :: Helen MacGowan Cooke picking California Golden poppies in a field, between 1906 and 1911. Autochrome. (*) | src Library of Congress
Arnold Genthe :: Helen MacGowan Cooke picking California Golden poppies in a field, between 1906 and 1911. Autochrome. (*) | src Library of Congress
Arnold Genthe :: Helen MacGowan Cooke picking California Golden poppies in a field, between 1906 and 1911. Autochrome. (*) | src Library of Congress
Arnold Genthe :: Helen MacGowan Cooke picking California Golden poppies in a field, between 1906 and 1911. Autochrome. (*) | src Library of Congress
Arnold Genthe :: Helen MacGowan Cooke at the beach in Carmel, California, between 1906 and 1911. Autochrome. (*) | src Library of Congress
Arnold Genthe :: Helen MacGowan Cooke at the beach in Carmel, California, between 1906 and 1911. Autochrome. (*) | src Library of Congress
Arnold Genthe :: Helen MacGowan Cooke at the beach in Carmel, California, between 1906 and 1911. Autochrome. (*) | src Library of Congress
Arnold Genthe :: Helen MacGowan Cooke at the beach in Carmel, California, between 1906 and 1911. Autochrome. (*) | src Library of Congress
Arnold Genthe :: Helen MacGowan Cooke picking California Golden poppies in a field, between 1906 and 1911. Autochrome. (*) | src Library of Congress
Arnold Genthe :: Helen MacGowan Cooke picking California Golden poppies in a field, between 1906 and 1911. Autochrome [alternative rendition of Autochrome on top] (*) | src Library of Congress

(*) please note: the images had been edited from the original scans available at the link above in the Library of Congress to enhance its color and definition.

Art in Photography (1905)

William A. Cadby :: Portrait of Mrs. H. Wilson. Original halftone. From the British Section of ‘The Studio – Art in Photography’ the Single Volume British companion to Camera Work 1905. | src eBay
William A. Cadby :: Portrait of Mrs. H. Wilson. Original halftone. From the British Section of 'The Studio - Art in Photography' the Single Volume British companion to Camera Work 1905. | src eBay
William A. Cadby :: Portrait of Mrs. H. Wilson. Original halftone. From the British Section of ‘The Studio – Art in Photography’ the Single Volume British companion to Camera Work 1905. [full page] | src eBay
F. Hollyer :: Portrait of Mrs. Patrick Campbell. Original halftone. From the British Section of ‘The Studio – Art in Photography’ the Single Volume British companion to Camera Work 1905. | src eBay
F. Hollyer :: Portrait of Mrs. Patrick Campbell. Original halftone. From the British Section of ‘The Studio – Art in Photography’ the Single Volume British companion to Camera Work 1905. [full page] | src eBay
C.F. Juston :: The Iris. Original halftone. From the British Section of 'The Studio - Art in Photography' the Single Volume British companion to Camera Work 1905. | src eBay
C.F. Juston :: The Iris. Original halftone. From the British Section of ‘The Studio – Art in Photography’ the Single Volume British companion to Camera Work 1905. | src eBay
C.F. Juston :: The Iris. Original halftone. From the British Section of 'The Studio - Art in Photography' the Single Volume British companion to Camera Work 1905. [full page] | src eBay
C.F. Juston :: The Iris. Original halftone. From the British Section of ‘The Studio – Art in Photography’ the Single Volume British companion to Camera Work 1905. [full page] | src eBay
William Crooke :: Portrait study. Original halftone. From the British Section of 'The Studio - Art in Photography' the Single Volume British companion to Camera Work 1905. | src eBay
William Crooke :: Portrait study. Original halftone. From the British Section of ‘The Studio – Art in Photography’ the Single Volume British companion to Camera Work 1905. | src eBay
William Crooke :: Portrait study. Original halftone. From the British Section of 'The Studio - Art in Photography' the Single Volume British companion to Camera Work 1905. [full page] | src eBay
William Crooke :: Portrait study. Original halftone. From the British Section of ‘The Studio – Art in Photography’ the Single Volume British companion to Camera Work 1905. [full page] | src eBay

Warburg by Warburg, ca. 1910

John Cimon Warburg :: Wild Flowers, ca. 1910. Autochrome. Photograph of Joan, the photographer's daughter, shown three-quarter length, standing in front of red wall paper. | src V&A Museum
John Cimon Warburg :: Wild Flowers, ca. 1910. Autochrome. Photograph of Joan, the photographer’s daughter, shown three-quarter length, standing in front of red wall paper. | src V&A Museum
John Cimon Warburg :: Marsh Marigolds, ca. 1910. Autochrome. | src V&A Museum
John Cimon Warburg :: Marsh Marigolds, ca. 1910. Autochrome. | src V&A Museum
John Cimon Warburg :: ‘The Sunny Doorway’, ca. 1909, autochrome. | src V&A Museum
John Cimon Warburg :: 'Peggy by the Orange Tree', Autochrome, 1909. Photograph of a full length portrait of Warburg's daughter Peggy standing beside an orange tree. She wears a white dress and holds a white hat in her hand. She holds onto the orange tree with her other hand. | src V&A Museum
John Cimon Warburg :: ‘Peggy by the Orange Tree’, Autochrome, 1909. Photograph of a full length portrait of Warburg’s daughter Peggy standing beside an orange tree. She wears a white dress and holds a white hat in her hand. She holds onto the orange tree with her other hand. | src V&A Museum
John Cimon Warburg :: ‘Joan in Red Riding Hood Cape with Basket’, autochrome, 6 November 1907. | src V&A Museum
Photograph of a near full length potrait of Warburg’s daughter Joan dressed in a Red Riding Hood cape. She stands beside a bush of white daisies. Warburg has annotated the plate with details regarding how the photograph was made.

Karsavina, ca. 1908. Autochrome

Adolf de Meyer :: Tamara Karsavina, ca. 1908. Autochrome. From the exhibition "Quicksilver Brilliance: Adolf de Meyer Photographs" at the Met, direct link
Adolf de Meyer :: Tamara Karsavina, ca. 1908. Autochrome. From the exhibition “Quicksilver Brilliance: Adolf de Meyer Photographs” at the Met, direct link
Adolf de Meyer :: Tamara Karsavina, ca. 1908. Autochrome. From the exhibition "Quicksilver Brilliance: Adolf de Meyer Photographs" at the Met, direct link
Adolf de Meyer :: Tamara Karsavina, ca. 1908. Autochrome. From the exhibition “Quicksilver Brilliance: Adolf de Meyer Photographs” at the Met, direct link

Vasily Kachalov in Anathema

Vintage Russian postcard depicting Russian actor Vasily Ivanovich Kachalov [Васи́лий Ива́нович Кача́лов] in Anathema, a play by Russian playwright Leonid Andreyev at the Moscow Art Theater. [ca. 1900] akademic.ru
Russian actor Vasily Ivanovich Kachalov in the title role of Leonid Andreyev’s Anathema. Kachalov led the so-called Kachalov Group within the Moscow Art Theater. [Ryckoff Collection]. | src Getty Images
Russian actor Vasily Ivanovich Kachalov in the title role of Leonid Andreyev’s Anathema. (ca. 1900) | src Getty images
К. С. Малевич. Василий Качалов в пьесе Л. Андреева “Анатэма”. 1908 г. Единственный пробный оттиск гг. Коллекция С. Григорьянца | Vasily Kachalov in Anathema by Kazimir Malevich (1908) | src wikimedia commons
Vasily Ivanovich Kachalov by Kazimir Severinovich Malevich (1908) | src twitter

Actress Alexandra Rebikova

Ребикова, Александра Васильевна. Молоко в спектакле «Синяя птица». | Russian actress Alexandra Vasilievna Rebikova as Milk in the play «The Blue Bird» in costume designed by Vladimir Egorov (?) for Konstanin Stanislavski’s production of Maurice Maeterlinck’s «Oiseau Bleu» at the Moscow Art Theatre, 1908. | src academia.ru
Мей в спектакле «Сверчок на печи». Actress Alexandra Vasilievna Rebikova as May Fielding in the play «Cricket on the Hearth» at the Moscow Art Theatre. Unknown date, probably before 1908.
Мей в спектакле «Сверчок на печи». Actress Alexandra Vasilievna Rebikova as May Fielding in the play «Cricket on the Hearth» at the Moscow Art Theatre. Unknown date, probably before 1908. [Full scan of programme]
Portrait of Alexandra Vasilievna Rebikova. | src academia.ru

In 1915, Alexandra Rebikova began to star in the movies of the film company “A. Khanzhonkov and Co.” [Торгового дома «А. Ханжонков и К°] and very soon became one of the leading silent film actresses.

Alexandra Rebikova with Oleg Frelyh (Frelikh) in 1917 in the film «The Clay God» («Глиняный бог», a silent film by Nikolai Larin, 1918)
Alexandra Rebikova with Gregory Khmara (Chmara) in the film «Symphony of Sorrow» («Симфония горя», 1918) | src academia.ru