La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, 1928

The Passion of Joan of Arc, 1928

Falconetti in Carl Th. Dreyer’s “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc”, 1928. Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

The Criterion Collection DVD/Blu-Ray cover

Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc, 1412 – 1431) is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Hundred Years’ War and was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint.
Joan of Arc was born to Jacques d’Arc and Isabelle Romee, a peasant family, in north-east France. Joan said she received visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years’ War. The uncrowned King Charles VII sent Joan to the siege of Orleans as part of a relief mission. She gained prominence after the siege was lifted only nine days later. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII’s coronation at Reims. This long-awaited event boosted French morale and paved the way for the final French victory.
After having led numerous military battles against the English during the Hundred Years’ War, Joan of Arc is captured near Compiegne and eventually brought to Rouen, Normandy to stand trial for heresy by French clergymen loyal to the English. Her judges try to make her say something that will discredit her claim or shake her belief that she has been given a mission by God to drive the English from France.
The trial of Joan of Arc was politically motivated and it’s one of the most famous trials in history. After Bishop of Beauvais, Pierre Cauchon declared her guilty she was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431, dying at about nineteen years of age.
In 1456, an inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, debunked the charges against her, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr. In the 16th century she became a symbol of the Catholic League, and in 1803 she was declared a national symbol of France by the decision of Napoleon Bonaparte. She was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920.
La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc) is a 1928 silent French film based on the actual record of the trial of Joan of Arc. The film was directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer and stars Renee Jeanne Falconetti as Joan. It is widely regarded as a landmark of cinema, especially for its production, Dreyer’s direction and Falconetti’s performance, which is often listed as one of the finest in cinema history.
The representation of Joan of Arc in Dreyer’s masterpiece is radically different from the image of her as a national warrior heroine in shining armour that was found in every French schoolbook, and the director almost completely leaves out the historical events of the Hundred Years’ War. The sets were big and costly but severely stylised, almost abstract looking in their sparseness. Dreyer places his camera in positions that rarely afford the observer an overview of the space in which the action is taking place. In consequence, all attention is concentrated on the spiritual and psychological confrontation between Joan and her judges, which is underscored by the dynamic, fast cutting and, not least, by the gigantic close-ups that lay bare every nuance of the characters’ reactions.

“In order to give the truth, I dispensed with “beautification.” My actors were not allowed to touch makeup and powder puffs… Rudolf Mate, who manned the camera, understood the demands of psychological drama in the close-ups and he gave me what I wanted, my feeling and my thought: realized mysticism.”
Carl Theodor Dreyer: Realized Mysticism in The Passion of Joan of Arc

Prior to its release, the film was controversial due to French nationalists’ skepticism about whether a Danish person could direct a film that centered on one of France’s most revered historical icons. Dreyer’s final version of the film was cut down due to pressure from the Archbishop of Paris and from government censors. For several decades it was released and viewed in various re-edited versions that had attempted to restore Dreyer’s final cut. In 1981 a film print of Dreyer’s final cut of the film was finally discovered in a mental institution in Oslo, Norway and re-released. Despite the objections and cutting of the film by clerical and government authorities, it was a major critical success when first released and has consistently been considered one of the greatest films ever made since 1928.
On 28 March 2018, The Criterion Collection will release a new digitally restored copy of The Passion of Jean of Arc in DVD and Blu-Ray.
Carl Theodor Dreyer (1889 – 1968) was a Danish film director. He is regarded by many critics and filmmakers as one of the greatest directors in cinema. His best known films include The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), Vampyr (1932), Day of Wrath (1943), Ordet (1955), and Gertrud (1964).
Dreyer was born illegitimate in Copenhagen, Denmark. His birth mother was an unmarried Scanian maid, who gave him up for adoption immediately. He spent the first two years of his life in orphanages until his adoption by Dreyer family and was named Carl Theodor after his adoptive father. His adoptive parents were emotionally distant and his childhood was largely unhappy. But he was a highly intelligent school student, who left home and formal education at the age of sixteen. He dissociated himself from his adoptive family, but their teachings were to influence the themes of many of his films.
As a young man, Dreyer worked as a journalist, but he eventually joined the film industry as a writer of title cards for silent films and subsequently of screenplays. He was initially hired by Nordisk Film in 1913. His first attempts at film direction had limited success, and since the Danish film industry was in financial ruin he left Denmark to work in the France. While living in Paris with his wife, he met Jean Cocteau, Jean Hugo and other members of the French artistic scene.
In 1928 he made his first classic film, The Passion of Joan of Arc and four years later Vampyr, a surreal meditation on fear. Both films were box office failures, and Dreyer did not make another movie until 1943.
Denmark was by now under Nazi occupation, and his Day of Wrath had as its theme the paranoia surrounding witch hunts in the seventeenth century in a strongly theocratic culture. With this work, Dreyer established the style that would mark his sound films: careful compositions, stark monochrome cinematography, and very long takes. In more than a decade before his next full-length feature film, Dreyer made two documentaries. In 1955, he made Ordet (The Word) based on the play of the same name by Kaj Munk. The film combines a love story with a conflict of faith. The Word was the first time Dreyer had a film unanimously proclaimed a “masterpiece” by Danish critics. Internationally, the film was a big hit as well, winning the Golden Lion for best feature at the 1955 Venice Film Festival and an American Golden Globe for best foreign film the following year. Dreyer’s last film was 1964’s Gertrud. Although seen by some as a lesser film than its predecessors, it is a fitting close to Dreyer’s career, as it deals with a woman who, through the tribulations of her life, never expresses regret for her choices.
Dreyer died of pneumonia in Copenhagen, on 20 March 1968, at age 79.

Falconetti in a French postcard, by Editions Sid, Paris (ca. 1920’s?)

Renee Jeanne Falconetti (1892 – 1946) -sometimes credited as Maria Falconetti- was a French stage and film actress of Corsican-Italian ancestry, born in Pantin outside Paris. Growing up poor, Falconetti was schooled by nuns who did not much encourage her acting ambitions. Her fortunes improved when she met a much older factory owner whose she became secretary. Against all odds, Falconetti was admitted to the Conservatory, where she trained under the tutelage of Eugene Sylvain, who years later would play the grand inquisitor in The Passion of Joan of Arc.
During World War I, Falconetti entertained the French troops and started getting small parts on stage. She became established in the early 1920s, mainly playing “Boulevard roles” (light comedies) but also performing some classic repertoire and doing a fair bit of singing.
Dreyer discovered Falconetti while she was performing La Garconne, a scandalous play about a free thinking feminist. By the time Dreyer watched her act she was already a celebrated stage artiste, and had appeared in one film, La Comtesse de Somerive (1917). Falconetti was 35 years old when she played the role of 19-year-old Joan of Arc in La Passion. During nine months of filming with Dreyer, Falconetti endured some very tough and demanding work conditions but poured everything she had into her performance. Her portrayal is widely considered one of the most astonishing performances ever committed to film, and it would remain her final cinematic role. The emotional highlight of the shoot was the scene that required her to cut her hair, something she had agreed to in her contract. Many technicians are said to have cried with her during that scene.

“…in Falconetti, who plays Joan, I found what I might, with very bold expression, allow myself to call “the martyr’s reincarnation.”
Carl Theodor Dreyer: Realized Mysticism in The Passion of Joan of Arc

In 1929, Falconetti was at the peak of her career. She acquired her own theatre, though it quickly went bankrupt because of mismanagement. When her millionaire benefactor passed away, she became increasing unstable and unreliable in her professional life, although she still maintained the favour of the Boulevard audiences. In the early 1930s the public spoke more of her extravagances than her performances. In 1935 she was singing in a cabaret under a pseudonym and acting in a play with Louis Jouvet. It was the last time she acted in France. Falconetti left France and spent a few years in Italy and Switzerland. Although she was almost broke, she maintained a frivolous lifestyle. As her financial situation deteriorated, she headed to South America, in 1942. After spending a year in Rio, she arrived in Buenos Aires in 1943. By now she had lost what remained of her fortune, presumably from horse-track gambling. Though Buenos Aires was full of expatriate French actors, she only managed to form a small company of amateurs, which performed four plays at a small, insignificant theatre. To make ends meet, she gave elocution classes to young French-Argentines.
As the years passed, her activity slowed. When she attempted to make a theatrical comeback after World War II she was heavily overweight. Falconetti passed away on 12 December 1946 under mysterious circumstances. Some sources say she died as the result of a self-imposed crash diet. Her remains were entombed in an Argentine cemetery until 1960, when they were cremated. Her ashes now rest in the Montmartre Cemetery in Paris.

Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: Joan of Arc
Wikipedia: The Trial of Joan of Arc
The Criterion Collection: The Passion of Joan of Arc
Wikipedia: The Passion of Joan of Arc
IMDb: La passion de Jeanne d’Arc
Wikipedia: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Danish Film Institute – Carl Theodor Dreyer
Wikipedia: Maria Falconetti
European Film Star Postcard: Maria Falconetti
NY Times, March 31, 1929: “POIGNANT FRENCH FILM”
Carl Theodor Dreyer: “Realized Mysticism in The Passion of Joan of Arc”

Mark Cousins & Lars Von Trier on Carl Dreyer
Excerpt from 2011 documentary, The Story of Film: An Odyssey


‘Yva Richard’ fetishwear company, Paris, ca. 1935

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

A leather dominatrix outfit from the Yva Richard catalog (c. 1935)

Nativa Richard modeling as a dominatrix (c. 1935)

Tightlaced Nativa Richard sitting on a barstool wearing only a corset and overknee boots (c. 1935)

Yva Richard was a French fetishwear company of the early 20th century. It was formed in Paris, by L. Richard and his wife Nativa, who was a seamstress.
They began in 1914 selling costumes, women’s hats, shoes, and high-class lingerie.
In 1923, their range of products started to include in-house produced photography, ranging from erotic lingerie poses to increasingly risque and imaginative fetish outfits. Nativa, displaying a wide streak of exhibitionism, was the principal model for over a decade. She sometimes used the names Helios and Miss Milado. Their photographs are often marked with a “Y.R.” in the corner and may have been taken by her husband.
They also sold erotic photos of bondage, whipping and spanking from well-known photographers such as H. Manuel and Ostra Studio (a division of Biederer Studio). Their main sales outlet was via a mail-order catalog, La Lingerie Moderne (photographed by Ostra Studio), and magazine advertisements in La Vie Parisienne, Le Sourire, and most likely London Life.
By the 1930s their catalog expanded, adding fetishistic accessories and S&M accouterments such as leather corsets, high-heeled boots, handcuffs, shackles, masks, dog collars with leashes, and bizarre dominatrix ensembles made of leather, rubber, and even metal.
However, the events of World War II brought an end to Yva Richard, along with most other purveyors of erotic art, products, and apparel throughout Europe. The company was forced to close its doors forever in 1943 during the Nazi occupation of France.
Yva Richard was one of a handful of companies that provided groundbreaking fetish fashions and photographs in the 1930s and ’40s. They had only one major rival, Diana Slip—a fetish wear company run by Leon Vidal, also based in Paris. Vidal’s collection while very much marketed to purveyors of kink had a slightly more sophisticated air and was not as overtly deviant as Yva Richard’s designs. In America, the only significant dealer in fetish paraphernalia and photography (much of it imported from France) at that time was Charles Guyette in New York.
Perhaps the most important result of the Yva Richard catalog was the influence it would have on the next generation of artists such as John Willie (who purchased items from Richard and Diana Slip in the ’30s) and photographers like Irving Klaw. In the 1950s, Klaw’s models, including Bettie Page, can be seen wearing a metal cone-bra and chastity belt outfit that is an updated version of the one modelled by Nativa Richard.
A book about the company has been published called: “Yva Richard, L’age d’or du fetichisme” by Alexandre Dupouy.

Fetishism tends to focus on materials. As far as underwear is concerned, recurring materials are silk and nylon, but after these two fabrics became outdated, designers began to use leather, metal and above all latex. Leather and metal have been used for a long time, as shown in the photographs of Yva Richard but it is latex that has considerable appeal today. In the 1920’s, Yva Richard appeared in a whole series of photographs in which she posed as a dominatrix. She usually modelled a corset similar to those of the second half of the 19th century, or all-in-ones in silky, smooth and shiny materials or leather. Leather was the fetishist’s material of choice for a long time.

Clothing fetishism or garment fetishism is a sexual fetish that revolves around a fixation upon a particular article or type of clothing, a collection of garments that appear as part of a fashion or uniform, or a person dressed in such a garment.
Clothing that limits the wearer’s movement is commonly used for this property, particularly among bondage enthusiasts and it has common appearance in bondage-related fetish fashion. Such restrictive fashion, among others, includes corsets, collars, and hobble skirts. The training corset and bondage corset has also become a staple in fetish wear, particularly among professional dominants. A submissive or slave may also be forced to wear a tightly laced corset as a form of punishment or simply restriction. And the masochistic practice known as tightlacing creates a particular type of pleasure for the wearer. It is done to achieve cosmetic modifications to the figure and posture or to experience the sensation of bodily restriction. In the 1980s, pop music performers such as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper reintroduced and popularized the corset as a daring outerwear garment. This influence continues to the present day in both fetish and mainstream fashion.

Editions Astarte: “Yva Richard, L’age d’or du fetichisme” by Alexandre Dupouy

Leather fetishism is the name popularly used to describe a sexual attraction to people wearing leather and or to the garments themselves. The smell and the sound of leather is often an erotic stimulus for people with a leather fetish.
BDSM – A variety of erotic practices involving dominance and submission, roleplaying, restraint, and other interpersonal dynamics. Given the wide range of practices, some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves as practicing BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community or subculture is usually dependent on self-identification and shared experience. Interest in BDSM can range from one-time experimentation to a lifestyle. The term “BDSM” is interpreted as a combination of the abbreviations B/D (Bondage and Discipline), D/s (Dominance and submission), and S/M (Sadism and Masochism).
A dominatrix is a woman who takes the dominant role in BDSM activities. A dominatrix might be of any sexual orientation, but her orientation does not necessarily limit the genders of her submissive partners. The role of a dominatrix may not even involve physical pain toward the submissive; her domination can be verbal, involving humiliating tasks, or servitude.
Sources / More to Read:
Spanking Art: Yva Richard
Wikipedia: Yva Richard
Editions Astarte: “Yva Richard, L’age d’or du fetichisme” by Alexandre Dupouy
Dangerous Minds: Fierce vintage fetish wear from the 1920s and 1930s
Wikipedia: Sexual fetishism
Wikipedia: Clothing fetishism
Wikipedia: Outline of BDSM
Wikipedia: Dominatrix

Arrival of Coronation Contingent, Sydney, 1937

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

The arrival of the Coronation Contingent, which had represented Australia at the coronation of King George VI, was a cause for celebration. 30 June 1937, Sydney (Sam Hood / State Library of New South Wales)

The coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth as King and Queen of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth and as Emperor and Empress of India took place at Westminster Abbey, London, on 12 May 1937. King George ascended the throne upon the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII.
The ceremony began with the anointing of the King, symbolising his spiritual entry into kingship, and then his crowning and enthronement, representing his assumption of temporal powers and responsibilities. The peers of the realm then paid homage to the King before a shorter and simpler ceremony was conducted for the Queen’s coronation.
The event was designed to be not only a sacred anointing and formal crowning, but also a public spectacle, which was also planned as a display of the British Empire. In the lead up to the coronation, guests from across the Empire and around the world assembled on Buckingham Palace and official receptions were held to welcome them; amongst those attending were Indian princes and, for the first time, native African royalty. For the event itself, the prime ministers of each Dominion took part in the procession to the abbey, while representatives of nearly every country attended. Contingents from most colonies and each Dominion participated in the return procession through London’s streets.
The return procession to Buckingham Palace was over six miles in length, making it the longest coronation procession up to that time; crowds of people lined the streets to watch it, over 32.000 soldiers took part and 20.000 police officers lined the route.
There were representative detachments from all the elements of the British armed forces and the reserve forces, the British Indian Army and Royal Indian Navy, contingents from the British Dominions and a contingent representing the defence forces of the Colonial Empire. Contingents taking part represented the following sections of the Empire: India, the dominions of Canada, Australia (a contingent of 100 soldiers, 25 sailors and 25 airmen), New Zealand, Burma, Newfoundland and South Africa, and the Colonies of Southern Rhodesia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Nyassaland, the Gambia, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, Somalia, the Aden, Transjordan, Malta, the West Indies, Guyana, Honduras, Ceylon, the Falklands and Hong Kong.
The coronation was commemorated by the issuing of official medals, coinage, and stamps, by military parades across the Empire, and by numerous unofficial celebrations, including street parties and the production of memorabilia.
The media played an important part in broadcasting this show of pageantry and imperialism to the Empire, which marked George and Elizabeth’s coronation as an important event in the history of television, being the world’s first major outside broadcast. It was also the first coronation to be filmed, as well as the first to be broadcast on radio.

“Disregarding the wintery showers, thousands of citizens crowded footpaths and doorways, or leaned from windows, to welcome these splendid specimens of Australian manhood who had returned from an honourable mission, honourably accomplished.”
The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 July 1937

Australian Light Horse were mounted troops with characteristics of both cavalry and mounted infantry, who served in the Second Boer War and World War I.
At the start of World War I, Australia committed to provide an all volunteer expeditionary force of 20,000 personnel known as the Australian Imperial Force, which would consist of an infantry division and a light horse brigade. As Australia’s commitment to the war increased, the size of the light horse contingent was expanded, with a second and third light horse brigade being raised in late 1914 and early 1915. The light horse regiment’s first involvement in the fighting during the war came during the Gallipoli Campaign, where the troops of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Light Horse Brigades were sent to Gallipoli without their horses to provide reinforcements for the infantry.
During the inter-war years, a number of regiments were raised as part of Australia’s part-time military force. These units were gradually mechanised either before or during World War II, although only a small number undertook operational service during the war. A number of Australian light horse units are still in existence today, including the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry), now an armoured reconnaissance unit equipped primarily with the ASLAV armoured fighting vehicle.
Samuel John Hood (1872 – 1953) was an Australian photographer and photojournalist whose career spanned from the 1880s to the 1950s. Hood opened his first studio in 1899, with the main source of income being generated from portraiture and weddings. In 1918 he acquired the Dalny Studio at 124 Pitt Street, and began to expand his business into press photography, providing photographs for the local newspapers. By the mid-1930s most newspapers employed their own photographers, and Hood’s commissions from the papers began to decline. Hood sought other kinds of commissions, and won a number of long term advertising and commercial contracts. Throughout his career he worked at the stock-in-trade for commercial photographers: portraits, weddings and even funerals.
Sources / More to Read:
Wikipedia: Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth
Wikipedia: Australian Light Horse
Australian Light Horse Association
Wikipedia: Sam Hood
State Library of New South Wales
Sydney Bus Museum

Gloria Swanson, New York, 1924

Edward Steichen – Part Two

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Actress Gloria Swanson with black head wrap dramatically made up behind a screen of lace (Edward Steichen, Condé Nast/Corbis), New York, 1924. The photograph was first published in the February 1928 issue of Vanity Fair.

Gloria May Josephine Swanson (1899–1983) was an American actress and producer. She was a star in the silent film era as both an actress and a fashion icon.
Swanson began her career as an extra at the age of 14 in Essanay Studios. She left school to work full-time at the studio and made her film debut in 1914.
Swanson moved to California in 1916 to appear in Mack Sennett’s Keystone. In 1919 she signed with Paramount Pictures and worked often with Cecil B. DeMille, who turned her into a romantic lead.
In the space of two years, Swanson rocketed to stardom and was one of the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood. During Swanson’s heyday, audiences went to her films not only for her performances, but also to see her wardrobe. She was frequently ornamented with beads, jewels, peacock and ostrich feathers and other extravagant pieces of haute couture. Her fashion, hair styles, and jewels were copied around the world. She was the screen’s first clothes horse and was becoming one of the most famous and photographed women in the world.
So successful were her films for Paramount that the studio was afraid of losing her and gave in to many of her whims and wishes. But, in 1927, she decided to turn down a million dollar a year (approx. $13.6 million in 2017) contract with Paramount to join the newly created United Artists, where she was her own boss and could make the films she wanted, with whom she wanted, and when.

Joseph P. Kennedy presents Gloria Swanson in The Trespasser (1929)

In 1929, Swanson jumped into making talkies. “The Trespasser” was released by United Artists, and earned Swanson an Academy Award nomination.
Sadly for Swanson, The Trespasser proved to be one of her only two hit talkies. Subsequent follow-ups like What a Widow!, Indiscreet, Tonight or Never, Perfect Understanding, and Music in the Air all proved to be box-office flops. Despite the disappointments, Swanson was well remembered by Billy Wilder, a writer on Music in the Air, when he was casting the part of Norma Desmond in his masterpiece Sunset Boulevard (1950).
Although she made the transition to talkies, as her film career began to decline, Swanson relocated permanently to New York City in 1938, where she began an inventions and patents company called Multiprises, which kept her occupied during the years of World War II. This small company had the sole purpose of rescuing Jewish scientists and inventors from war-torn Europe and bringing them to the United States. She helped many escape, and some useful inventions came from the enterprise.
Swanson made another film for RKO in 1941 (“Father Takes a Wife”), began appearing in the legitimate theater, and starred in her own television show in 1948. She threw herself into painting and sculpting, writing a syndicated column, touring in summer stock, engaging in political activism, radio and television work, clothing and accessories design and marketing, and making occasional appearances on the big screen. But it was not until 1950 when Sunset Boulevard was released (earning her yet another Academy Award nomination) that she achieved mass recognition again.
Although Swanson only made three films after Sunset Boulevard, she starred in numerous stage and television productions during her remaining years. She was active in various business ventures, traveled extensively, wrote articles, columns, and an autobiography, painted and sculpted, and became a passionate advocate of various health and nutrition topics. She became a vegetarian around 1928 and was an early health food advocate who was known for bringing her own meals to public functions in a paper bag.
Swanson was married six times. Most of the marriages were brief and, in an interview, she said, ”The mess I made of marriage was all my fault. The trouble with me is that I’ve always been too independent.” Gossip columnists wrote voraciously about her marriages and purported love affairs, dwelling particularly on one with Joseph P. Kennedy, the Boston financier who was to found a political dynasty. For more than half a century, Miss Swanson denied having an affair with Mr. Kennedy, but then she wrote about it in her 1980 autobiography, ”Swanson on Swanson,” which won admiring reviews and became a best-seller.
On April 4, 1983, Swanson died in New York City, aged 84.

Gloria Swanson and I had had a long session, with many changes of costume and different lighting effects.  At the end of the session, I took a piece of black lace veil and hung it in front of her face.  She recognized the idea at once.  Her eyes dilated, and her look was that of a leopardess lurking behind leafy shrubbery, watching her prey.  You don’t have to explain things to a dynamic and intelligent personality like Miss Swanson.  Her mind works swiftly and intuitively.” Edward Steichen: A Life in Photography

Edward Jean Steichen (1879–1973) was an American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator. He was born in Luxemburg, but his family immigrated to the United States in 1880.
Steichen is a major figure in the evolution of American photography and exhibition design. Having begun his artistic career as a painter, he was later a founding photographer of the Photo-Secession group, together with Gertrude Kasebier, Clarence White, Alvin Langdon Coburn, and Alfred Stieglitz. With Stieglitz, he first exhibited European “modern art” at Gallery 291 in New York City. He was, also, the most frequently featured photographer in groundbreaking magazine Camera Work during its run from 1903 to 1917.
His photos of gowns for the magazine Art et Décoration in 1911 are regarded as the first modern fashion photographs ever published.
During World War I, he enlisted in the U.S. Army as a photographer, leading the aerial reconnaissance division in France.
In 1923, he began a 15-year career at Condé Nast, serving eventually as Chief Photographer and creating iconic portraits of politicians, actors, and socialites for publications including Vogue and Vanity Fair. During these years, Steichen was regarded as the best known and highest paid photographer in the world.
In 1944, he directed the war documentary The Fighting Lady, which won the 1945 Academy Award for Best Documentary.
After World War II, Steichen was Director of the Department of Photography at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) until 1962. Among other accomplishments, Steichen is appreciated for creating The Family of Man, a vast exhibition consisting of over 500 photos that depicted life, love and death in 68 countries. The exhibition was seen by nine million people.
Edward Steichen died on 25th March, 1973 at 93 years of age.
Sources / More to Read:
Wikipedia: Gloria Swanson
IMDb: Gloria Swanson
Wikipedia: Edward Steichen
AnOther mag: Ten milestones in the life of Edward Steichen

See also my other post about Edward Steichen’s work
Mary Nolan, Hollywood, ca. 1929

Mary Nolan, Hollywood, 1929

Portrait for Vanity Fair magazine
Edward Steichen – Part One

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Vanity Fair Magazine: Actress, Mary Nolan, with light eyes and disheveled blond hair, wearing a light sleeveless dress, sitting on a sofa, clutching a scarf, and biting her lower lip. (Photo by Edward Steichen/Condé Nast), 1929

Mary Nolan (1902 – 1948) was an American stage and film actress, singer and dancer. She was born Mary Imogene Robertson in Louisville, Kentucky. When her mother died, his father placed Mary in a foster home and later in a Catholic orphanage in Missouri.
In June 1912, she travelled to New York City to be near her oldest sister. She began working as an artists’ model and later she hired as a dancer in Ziegfeld Follies. As a showgirl, she performed under the name “Imogene “Bubbles” Wilson” and soon became one of the most popular Ziegfeld Girls.
While working in the Follies, Nolan began a tumultuous and highly publicized affair with actor Frank Tinney. He was married to former singer and dancer Edna Davenport, with whom he had a young son. Tinney drank heavily and reportedly physically abused Nolan regularly. On May 24, 1924, Tinney and Nolan got into a physical altercation in her apartment after he awoke to find her alone with a male reporter. After the altercation, Nolan attempted suicide. On May 28, she appeared before New York City Magistrate to report the assault and to press charges against Tinney. Nolan had bruises on her head and body. Tinney was arrested the following day. In June 1924, the case went before a grand jury. Based on the evidence, the jury refused to indict Tinney on assault charges. Afterwards, Tinney claimed the whole ordeal was a publicity stunt concocted by Nolan. After the grand jury hearing, Tinney decided to leave New York to perform in vaudeville in England. In early August 1924, he booked a trip on the Columbus ocean liner. Two days before Tinney was set to leave, he and Nolan reconciled and were photographed together outside of a Broadway theatre. Nolan wept as she watched the Columbus depart and told reporters on hand that she was still in love with Tinney. Nolan’s tearful goodbye to Tinney was covered by the media, which prompted Florenz Ziegfeld to fire Nolan later that day. Ziegfeld said that he fired Nolan because she had promised to end her relationship with Tinney. He added, “She broke her promise and I discharged her on account of the notoriety and also to prevent a possible disruption of the morale of my cast.”
On September 20, 1924, Nolan set sail for France where she was scheduled to appear in vaudeville. She made her way to London in October, where she reunited with Frank Tinney. By December 1924, Tinney had resumed drinking and began to physically abuse her again. In early 1925, Nolan finally ended their relationship. She left the United States shortly thereafter and began making films in Germany. She appeared in seventeen German films from 1925 to 1927 using a new stage name, “Imogene Robertson”.
Upon returning to the United States in 1927, she attempted to break from her previous scandal ridden past and adopted yet another stage name, “Mary Nolan”. Shortly after signing with Universal in 1927, Nolan began a relationship with another married man, studio executive Eddie Mannix. Mannix used his clout to further her career and Nolan found some success in films. Shortly after Desert Nights was released in 1929, Mannix abruptly ended the relationship. This angered Nolan, who threatened to tell Mannix’s wife of their affair. Mannix became enraged and beat her unconscious. Nolan hospitalized for six months and required fifteen surgeries to repair damage Mannix inflicted on her abdomen. While hospitalized, Nolan was prescribed morphine for pain. She eventually became addicted which contributed to the decline of her career.

Poster of a 1930 American drama film directed by Harry A. Pollard, starring Mary Nolan.

By the 1930s, her acting career began to decline due to her drug abuse and reputation for being temperamental. After being bought out of contract with Universal, she was unable to secure film work with any major studios. Nolan spent the remainder of her acting career appearing in roles in low-budget films for independent studios.
Nolan was married once and had no children. She married stock broker Wallace T. McCreary on March 29, 1931. One week before they married, McCreary lost 2,69 € million on bad investments. The couple used McCreary’s remaining money to open a dress shop in Beverly Hills. The shop went out of business within months and Nolan filed for bankruptcy in August 1931. Nolan divorced McCreary in July 1932. She made her final film appearance in 1933.
After her film career ended, Nolan appeared in vaudeville and performed in nightclubs and roadhouses around the United States. Her later years were plagued by drug problems and frequent hospitalizations.
In 1939, she returned to Hollywood and changed her name to “Mary Wilson”. In 1941, she sold her life story to The American Weekly, which was serialized under the title “Confessions of a Follies Girl”, and appeared in several issues.
In spring 1948, she was hospitalized for malnutrition and was also treated for a gall bladder disorder. On October 31, 1948, Nolan was found dead in her Hollywood apartment at the age of 45. An autopsy later determined that Nolan had died of an overdose of Seconal. Her death is listed as an “accidental or suicide”.
Among Nolan’s few possessions was an antique piano once owned by Rudolph Valentino. It was later sold in an estate sale.
Sources / More to Read:
Wikipedia: Mary Nolan
IMDb: Mary Nolan
Wikipedia: Frank Tinney
Wikipedia: Eddie Mannix


Portrait d’une prostituée, Paris, ca. 1930

Portrait of a prostitute, Paris, ca. 1930

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

“Mauvaises filles”: Portrait of a prostitute (photo by Monsieur X) Paris, ca. 1930

In the early 20th century, Paris was a hotspot for prostitution. In those days, men didn’t have very exciting sex lives with their wives. Also, if you were a man in the middle class, you would get married by 35. There would always be some misbehaving uncle to show you the joys of a brothel once you hit puberty.
Alexandre Dupouy is a sex archaeologist. The French collector has spent his entire life collecting what he defines as “erotic and pornographic junk.” His shop, the Tears of Eros—now open only by appointment—has been selling pictures, paintings, and sex objects for almost half a century. It’s a sort of small museum that traces the history of sex in France.
In 1975, he received a call from a bookseller friend who said that he had an old gentleman with “something special to show him.” What he had was a luxury car with a trunk full of black-and-white photographs of naked and smiling prostitutes from the 1930s. He explained that he took most of the pictures in a brothel on the Rue Pigalle. Given that he could feel his days were numbered, the old man agreed to part with the pictures as long as he could remain anonymous. That man became known as “Monsieur X.”
On the back of the photos Monsieur X wrote the name of each girl: Mado, Suzette, Gypsi, Mimi, Nono, Pepe, etc. Monsieur X must have been close, friendly, and generous with the ladies. What is amazing is that the girls seem very relaxed in the pictures—they are actually having fun. There are even outdoor pictures taken on the banks of the Marne. He also directed two ten-minute short films, shot both outdoors and indoors. These two pieces really revealed his biggest fantasy: putting two girls together. One played a modest girl, while the other tried to be a stripper.
There are a lot of similarities to Gustave Courbet’s The Origin of the World. He also liked pretty exhibitionists. Or E. J. Bellocq—the New Orleans photographer who was also a regular customer of a local brothel, eventually making friends with the girls so that he could take any picture he wanted.
Nearly four decades later, Dupouy has decided to reprint some of this impressive collection as a book called Mauvaises filles (Bad Girls). The book is co-authored by both Dupouy and Monsieur X and published by La manufacture des livres, in 2014.
(Follow the link below to read the full interview of Alexandre Dupouy, in
Sources / More to read:
Vice : Charming Pornographic Photographs of French Prostitutes from the 1930s
La manufacture des livres: Mauvaises filles Mauvaises filles, Portraits de prostituées 1925-1935



Circus workers, Cologne, ca. 1926

aka. Indian Man and German Woman
August Sander, part six

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Zirkusarbeiter, Köln, 1926 (Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv)

August Sander (1876–1964) was a German portrait and documentary photographer. He has been described as “the most important German portrait photographer of the early twentieth century”. August Sander took a methodological approach in his monumental documentary project People of the 20th Century. He classified his photographs into seven groups and multiple sub-groups, reflecting the social structures and developments of his time. This portrait is from the portfolio entitled ‘Travelling People – Fair and Circus’ within the sixth group, ‘The City’. It is one of a series of photographs that August Sander took of performers and other members of the famous Barum Circus. Between 1926 and 1929 the circus toured the Rhineland cities of Dortmund, Remscheid and Cologne. Sander portrayed the circus people as representatives of a certain urban type that he named ‘travelling people’, which also included vagrants and gypsies. The caravans, tents and makeshift domestic environments depicted in the photographs of the members of the Barum Circus emphasise the nomadic nature of their lives. During the Weimar era (1918–33) circus caravans wound their way across Germany, occupying urban wastelands and other ‘in-between’ spaces, momentarily revitalising them as sites of wonder, exoticism and permissiveness. In the popular culture of Sander’s Germany, the mobile circus milieu was synonymous with ‘dangerous’ and ‘primitive’ types – particularly gypsies and people of colour. Sander’s dispassionate circus shots feature both these ‘types’. Historians have used them to illustrate the photographer’s liberal values, values that led to his victimisation under Nazism.
The Circus Barum was founded in 1878 by the East Prussian animal dealer Carl Froese in Konigsberg as Barum’s American Caravan menagerie. After the death of Carl Froese in 1907, his daughter Helene took over the management together with her husband, the animal trainer Arthur Kreiser. From 1935, Margarete Kreiser-Barum, the daughter of Kreisers, continued the family business. She run the circus successfully through the years of the Second World War until it was destroyed in a bomb attack in 1944. In 1946, she dared a new beginning and toured with a new Circus Barum until her death in 1970.  In 1972, Gerd Siemoneit-Barum bought the circus and directed it until 2008. On 26 October 2008 the last performance of the Circus Barum took place in Northeim. Rebecca Siemoneit-Barum and her company Barum & Bauer Performance GmbH took over a part of the animal stock and staff. Since 2012, she is presenting the “Circus Barum Weihnachtsspektakel” in Gottingen.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: August Sander
Tate Papers, Katherine Tubb: “Face to Face? An Ethical Encounter with Germany’s Dark Strangers in August Sander’s People of the Twentieth Century”
Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur
August Sander Foundation
Tate, London
Wikipedia: Circus Barum (in German)

See also my other posts about August Sander’s work
Widower with his sons, Cologne, 1914
Confirmation candidate, 1911
The Notary, Cologne, 1924
National Socialist, Germany, 1937
Cadet, Germany, 1944


Officer Cadet, Germany, 1944

August Sander, part five

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Fahnenjunker, Deutschland, 1944 (Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv)

August Sander (1876–1964) was a German portrait and documentary photographer. He has been described as “the most important German portrait photographer of the early twentieth century”.
August Sander became renowned for this work ‘People of the 20th Century’, in which he put together hundreds of portraits of people from different levels of society and occupational groups in a series of portfolios developed in a project spanning decades. The series is divided into seven sections reflecting the social structures and developments of his time: The Farmer, The Skilled Tradesman, Woman, Classes and Professions, The Artists, The City, and The Last People (homeless persons, veterans, etc.). In 1945, Sander’s archive included over 40,000 images, but an accidental fire a year later destroyed most of them. Sander practically ceased to work as a photographer after World War II. He died in Cologne in 1964.
The world’s largest collection of work by August Sander, is located at Die Photographische Sammlung der Kulturstiftung der Sparkasse KölnBonn.

This portrait of an officer cadet is from the portfolio entitled ‘The Soldier’ within the group ‘Classes and Professions’ from series People of the 20th Century. The young man is awarded with a wound badge.
The Wound Badge (German: Verwundetenabzeichen) was a military decoration first promulgated by Wilhelm II, German Emperor on 3 March 1918, which was awarded to wounded or frostbitten soldiers of the Imperial German Army, during World War I. Between the world wars, it was awarded to members of the German armed forces who fought on the Nationalist side of the Spanish Civil War, 1938–39, and received combat related wounds. It was awarded to members in the Reichswehr, the Wehrmacht, SS and the auxiliary service organizations during the Second World War. After March 1943, due to the increasing number of Allied bombings, it was also awarded to wounded civilians in air raids. It was awarded when the wound was the result of enemy hostile action, with an exception being for frostbite.
The badge had three classes:
Black (3rd class, representing Iron), for those wounded once or twice by hostile action (including air raids).
Silver (2nd class) for being wounded three or four times.
Gold (1st class, which could be awarded posthumously) for five or more times wounded.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: August Sander
Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur
August Sander Foundation
Wikipedia: Ranks and insignia of the German Army (1935-1945)

Wikipedia: Wound Badge

See also my other posts about August Sander’s work
Widower with his sons, Cologne, 1914
Confirmation candidate, 1911
The Notary, Cologne, 1924
The National Socialist, Germany, 1937


National Socialist, Cologne, 1937

August Sander, part four

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Nationalsozialist, Köln,1937 (Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv)

August Sander (1876–1964) was a German portrait and documentary photographer. He has been described as “the most important German portrait photographer of the early twentieth century”.
In 1929, Sander published his book “Face of our Time” (Antlitz der Zeit), a selection of 60 portraits, from his series People of the 20th Century. In this series, he aims to show a cross-section of society during the Weimar Republic.
Under the Nazi regime, his work and personal life were greatly constrained. Sander’s book was seized in 1936 and the photographic plates destroyed. His son Erich, who was a member of the left wing Socialist Workers’ Party (SAP), was arrested in 1934 and sentenced to 10 years in prison, where he died in 1944, shortly before the end of his sentence. Around 1942, during World War II, Sander left Cologne and moved to a rural area, allowing him to save most of his negatives. His studio was destroyed in a 1944 bombing raid. Thirty thousand of Sander’s roughly forty-thousand negatives survived the war, only to perish in an accidental fire in Cologne in 1946. Sander practically ceased to work as a photographer after World War II. He died in Cologne in 1964.

This photograph of a seated National Socialist Party member (sergeant of the SA paramilitary group) is the first in the portfolio entitled ‘The National Socialists’ within the group ‘Classes and Professions’, in August Sander’s major project ‘People of the 20th Century’. Sander’s ambition in this project, which he conceived in the 1920s, was to create a typology of the German people during his lifetime that would function as a scientific documentation for future generations. He organised more than 500 photographs into seven groups and over 45 portfolios, classified by the categories of estate, profession and, in this case, political affiliation. Here the subject leans back in his chair, a swastika cufflink just visible in sharp focus peeking out from underneath his brown uniform shirt, and looks confidently into the camera.
National Socialism (German: Nationalsozialismus), more commonly known as Nazism is the ideology and practice associated with the 20th-century German Nazi Party (National Socialist German Workers’ Party) and Nazi Germany, as well as other far-right groups. Nazism characterized as a form of fascism that incorporates scientific racism and anti-Semitism. It was developed out of the influences of Pan-Germanism, the Völkisch German nationalist movement and the anti-communist Freikorps paramilitary groups that emerged during the Weimar Republic after German defeat in World War I.
The Sturmabteilung (SA), literally Storm Detachment, functioned as the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party (NSDAP). It played a significant role in Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s. Their primary purposes were providing protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies, disrupting the meetings of opposing parties, fighting against the paramilitary units of the opposing parties, especially the Red Front Fighters League (Rotfrontkämpferbund) of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), and intimidating Slavic and Romani citizens, unionists, and Jews – for instance, during the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses. The SA developed pseudo-military titles for its members. The SA ranks were adopted by the Schutzstaffel (SS), which originated as a branch of the SA before being separated. Truppführer was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank that was first created in 1930 as a rank of the Sturmabteilung (SA). Translated as “Troop Leader”, the rank of Truppführer was considered the equivalent of a senior sergeant, or sergeant first class. The SA have been known in contemporary times as “Brownshirts” (Braunhemden). Brown-coloured shirts were chosen as the SA uniform because a large batch of them were cheaply available after World War I, having originally been ordered during the war for colonial troops posted to Germany’s former African colonies. In the 1930s, the Hugo Boss Company produced these brown SA shirts along with the all-black SS uniform and the black-and-brown uniforms of the Hitler Youth.
Hugo Ferdinand Boss (1885–1948) was a German fashion designer and businessman. He was the founder of the clothing company Hugo Boss. Boss was born in Metzingen, in the Kingdom of Wurttemberg. He did an apprenticeship as a merchant, completed military service from 1903 to 1905 and worked in a weaving mill in Konstanz. In 1914, he was mobilized into the army and he served through World War I with the rank of corporal. He founded his own clothing company in Metzingen in 1923, producing shirts and jackets and then work-clothing, sportswear and raincoats. In 1928 he became the official supplier of uniforms to the SA, SS, Hitler Youth, National Socialist Motor Corps, and other party organizations. Boss joined the Nazi Party in 1931, and became a sponsoring member of the SS. He also joined the German Labour Front in 1936, the Reich Air Protection Association in 1939, and the National Socialist People’s Welfare in 1941. After joining these organizations, his sales increased from 38,260 Reichsmark (25.393,12 € ($26,993)) in 1932 to over 3,300,000 RM in 1941. After World War II, Boss was fined “a very heavy penalty” of 100,000 DM (66.371,32 € ($70,553)) for his support of Nazism and was not allowed to vote. He died of a tooth abscess in 1948, but his business survived.
In 1999, US lawyers acting on behalf of Holocaust survivors started legal proceedings against the Hugo Boss company over the use of slave labour during the war. The misuse of 140 Polish and 40 French forced workers led to an apology by the company.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: August Sander
Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur
August Sander Foundation
Wikipedia: Nazism
Wikipedia: Sturmabteilung
Wikipedia: Truppführer
Wikipedia: Hugo_Boss (fashion designer)
Wikipedia: Hugo_Boss (company)

See also my other posts about August Sander’s work
Widower with his sons, Cologne, 1914
Confirmation candidate, 1911
The Notary, Cologne, 1924


The Notary, Cologne, 1924

August Sander, Part Three

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Notar, Köln, 1924 (Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv)

August Sander (1876–1964) was a German portrait and documentary photographer. He has been described as “the most important German portrait photographer of the early twentieth century”.
In 1911, Sander began with the first series of portraits for his work “People of the 20th Century”. In this series, he aims to show a cross-section of society during the Weimar Republic. August Sander became renowned for this work in which he put together hundreds of portraits of people from different levels of society and occupational groups in a series of portfolios developed in a project spanning decades. The series is divided into seven sections: The Farmer, The Skilled Tradesman, Woman, Classes and Professions, The Artists, The City, and The Last People (homeless persons, veterans, etc.). By 1945, Sander’s archive included over 40,000 images.

This portrait of a notary presents an unusual composition within the scope of its portfolio ‘The Judge and the Attorney’, and its larger group ‘Classes and Professions’, in August Sander’s ambitious project ‘People of the 20th Century’. Sander divided his photographic opus of more than 500 images into seven groups, made up of 45 portfolios classified according to the estates, professions and living environments of the German people. While many of the images taken after 1920 are studio portraits or set within the workplace, this outdoor image presents some external narrative detail. Perhaps at his subject’s behest, Sander photographed the notary standing before the stairwell leading to his home, his Doberman Pinscher poised at right angles before him, investing the scene with anticipation and dynamic tension. Attired in a walking coat and hat, and holding a walking stick and the dog’s rolled-up leash, the notary is here pictured far from his professional arena.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: August Sander
Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur
August Sander Foundation

See also my other posts about August Sander’s work
Widower with his sons, Cologne, 1914
Confirmation candidate, 1911