Ballet dancer Serge Oukrainsky

James Wallace Pondelicek :: "Serge Oukrainsky in Algerian Dance (Grieg). The only barefoot toe dancer and greatest Oriental dancer of the Chicago Opera and head of the Pavley-Oukrainsky Ballet" (title devised from caption on photograph's verso). | Worthpoint
James Wallace Pondelicek :: "Serge Oukrainsky in Algerian Dance (Grieg). The only barefoot toe dancer and greatest Oriental dancer of the Chicago Opera and head of the Pavley-Oukrainsky Ballet" (title devised from caption on photograph's verso). | Worthpoint
James Wallace Pondelicek :: “Serge Oukrainsky in Algerian Dance (Grieg). The only barefoot toe dancer and greatest Oriental dancer of the Chicago Opera and head of the Pavley-Oukrainsky Ballet” (title devised from caption on photograph’s verso). | Worthpoint

Pictorial portrait by Weston

Edward Henry Weston (1886 - 1958) :: [Woman in Asian Costume], 1917 | The J. Paul Getty Museum Collection
Edward Henry Weston (1886 - 1958) :: [Woman in Asian Costume], 1917 | The J. Paul Getty Museum Collection
Edward Henry Weston (1886 – 1958) :: Woman in Asian Costume, 1917 | The J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

La danseuse Lysana, 1924

La danseuse Lysana. Photo Abel. Paris-plaisirs: revue mensuelle esthétique et humoristique (nº 26), juillet 1924. | BnF · Gallica
La danseuse Lysana. Costume Domergue. Photo Abel. Paris-plaisirs: revue mensuelle esthétique et humoristique (nº 26), juillet 1924. | BnF · Gallica
La danseuse Lysana. Photo Abel. Paris-plaisirs: revue mensuelle esthétique et humoristique (nº 26), juillet 1924. | BnF · Gallica

Cleopatra in Auckland, 1914

Robert Walrond :: "Cleopatra" in Domain cricket ground, Auckland, 1914. Autochrome. | Te Papa Tongarewa
Robert Walrond :: “Cleopatra” in Domain cricket ground, Auckland, 1914. Autochrome. | Te Papa Tongarewa

When the autochrome — the Lumière brothers’ new colour photographic process — reached New Zealand in 1907, it was eagerly adopted by those who could afford to use it. Among them was Auckland photographer Robert Walrond, whose ‘Cleopatra’ in Domain cricket ground is among a small number of superb early colour photographs in Te Papa’s collection. The combined effect of the sun and wind on the women’s costumes and in the fluttering appearance of the silk scarf held above the Cleopatra character is stunning. The tableau is interrupted but undiminished by what appears to be a pipe band in uniform in the background. The women were very likely part of what was described by the New Zealand Herald as a ‘fine’ performance of Luigi Mancinelli’s Cleopatra (a musical setting of the play by Pietro Cossa), associated with the Auckland Exhibition of 1913–14 held in the Domain.

The story of Cleopatra — with a particular focus on her love life and tragic death — was an exotic but respectable theme for theatre and dress-up events for women at the time. The Cleopatra myth and look were popularised by international performers such as the frequently-photographed Sarah Bernhardt in France and by numerous stage productions and films from the late nineteenth century onwards. With the advent of photography, part of performing the role became having a portrait made while in costume. The arrival of the autochrome was greeted with excitement and anticipation because rich colours could now be captured and the elaborate style of the costumes enhanced.

Much was made of the impact the autochrome would have on art and the role of photography within it. However, one of the disadvantages of the process was that it involved a unique one-off image on a glass plate: this required projection to be viewed and couldn’t be exhibited. So despite the original excitement for the method, it slipped out of sight once new developments arrived that fixed colour printing on a paper format. Walrond’s set of autochromes held by Te Papa are one of only a few larger bodies of work by New Zealand practitioners of this process.

Lissa Mitchell – This essay originally appeared in New Zealand Art at Te Papa (Te Papa Press, 2018)

Robert Walrond :: "Cleopatra", 1914. Additive colour process. | Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa Tongarewa
Robert Walrond :: “Cleopatra”, 1914. Autochrome, additive colour process. | Museum of New Zealand – Te Papa Tongarewa

Clotilde von Derp, two cards

Clotilde von Derp in dance pose. Phot. Debschitz-Kurowski; Verlag Hermann Leiser, formerly Louis Blumenthal | src internet archive
Clotilde von Derp in dance pose. Phot. Debschitz-Kurowski; Verlag Hermann Leiser, formerly Louis Blumenthal | src internet archive
Clotilde von Derp. Photo by Hanns Holdt. Vintage card; Orami Serie E. | src Virtual History
Clotilde von Derp. Photo by Hanns Holdt. Vintage card; Orami Serie E. | src Virtual History

Salome by Anny Heimann

Anny Heimann, Berlin :: Salome. From: „Die Kunst in der Photographie", 1908
Anny Heimann, Berlin :: Salome. From: „Die Kunst in der Photographie”, 1908
Anny Heimann, Berlin :: Salome. From: „Die Kunst in der Photographie", 1908
Anny Heimann, Berlin :: Salome. From: „Die Kunst in der Photographie”, 1908

In the garden with Van Besten

Sebastiaan Alfonse Van Besten :: Innocence, ca. 1912. Autochrome. | src Belgian Autochromists
Sebastiaan Alfonse Van Besten :: Innocence, ca. 1912. Autochrome. | src Belgian Autochromists
Sebastiaan Alfonse Van Besten :: Japanesque, ca. 1913. Autochrome. | src Belgian Autochromists
Sebastiaan Alfonse Van Besten :: Japanesque, ca. 1913. Autochrome. | src Belgian Autochromists

‘Arethusa’ by Mme Yevonde

Lady Bridget Poulett as 'Arethusa'
by Madame Yevonde
Vivex colour print, 1935
14 3/4 in. x 10 3/4 in. (374 mm x 274 mm)
Given by Madame Yevonde (Yevonde Philone Middleton (née Cumbers)), 1971
Madame Yevonde :: Lady Bridget Poulett as ‘Arethusa’. Vivex colour print, 1935 | NPG
Given by Madame Yevonde (Yevonde Philone Middleton (née Cumbers)), 1971
Madame Yevonde :: Lady Bridget Poulett as 'Arethusa'. Vivex colour print, 1935 | NPG
Madame Yevonde :: Lady Bridget Poulett as ‘Arethusa’. Vivex colour print, 1935 | National Portrait Gallery

Arethusa was a wood nymph from Elis, associated with the goddess Artemis. Pursued relentlessly by the river-god Alpheus, Arethusa begged for Artemis’s help in escaping his attentions. The goddess opened up a passage under the sea which enabled Arethusa to emerge as a spring in Syracuse, on the island of Ortygia (Sicily) – hence the seaweed in Yevonde’s sitter’s hair. (quoted from NPG)

Madame Yevonde :: Lady Bridget Poulett as 'Arethusa'. Vivex colour print, 1935 | NPG
Madame Yevonde :: Lady Bridget Poulett as ‘Arethusa’. Vivex colour print, 1935 | National Portrait Gallery

Irma Calson and Jean Börlin

Irma Calson och Jean Börlin i Chopin av Svenska Baletten, foto: okänd. | src Dansmuseet on IG
Irma Calson och Jean Börlin i Chopin av Svenska Baletten, foto: okänd. | src Dansmuseet on IG
Irma Calson och Jean Börlin i Chopin, Svenska Baletten, foto: Studio V. Henry, Paris, 1920. | src Dansmuseet’s IG