Confirmation candidate, Cologne, 1911

August Sander, Part Two

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Confirmation candidate, 1911 (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.

“The essence of all photography is the documentary manner” August Sander

CONFIRMATION CANDIDATE
In Christianity, Confirmation is seen as the sealing of the covenant created in Holy Baptism. In some denominations, Confirmation also bestows full membership in a local congregation upon the recipient. In others, such as the Roman Catholic Church, Confirmation “renders the bond with the Church more perfect”, because, while a baptized person is already a member, “reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace”.
Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, and many Anglicans view Confirmation as a sacrament. In the East it is conferred immediately after baptism. In the West, this practice is followed when adults are baptized, but in the case of infants not in danger of death it is administered, ordinarily by a bishop, only when the child reaches the age of reason or early adolescence. Among those Catholics who practice teen-aged Confirmation, the practice may be perceived, secondarily, as a “coming of age” rite.
In Protestant churches, the rite tends to be seen rather as a mature statement of faith by an already baptized person. It is also required by most Protestant denominations for membership in the respective church, in particular for traditional Protestant churches (Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, etc.), in which it is recognized as a coming of age ceremony.
Confirmation is not practiced in Baptist, Anabaptist and other groups that teach believer’s baptism. Thus, the sacrament is administered to converts from non-Christian religions, those aforementioned groups, and nontrinitarian churches.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: August Sander
Wikipedia: Confirmation
Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur
August Sander Foundation

See also my other post about August Sander’s work
Widower with his sons, Cologne, 1914

Widower with his sons, Cologne, 1914

AUGUST SANDER, part one

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Witwer mit seinen söhnen, Köln, 1914 (August Sander – 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”.
Sander was born in Herdorf, the son of a carpenter working in the mining industry. While working at a local mine, Sander first learned about photography by assisting a photographer who was working for a mining company. With financial support from his uncle, he bought photographic equipment and set up his own darkroom.
He spent his military service (1897–99) as a photographer’s assistant and the next years wandering across Germany. In 1901, he started working for a photo studio in Linz, Austria, eventually becoming a partner (1902), and then its sole proprietor (1904). He left Linz at the end of 1909 and set up a new studio in Cologne.
In 1911, Sander began with the first series of portraits for his work “People of the 20th Century”. In the early 1920s, he came in contact with the (Cologne Progressives) a radical group of artists linked to the workers’ movement which, as Wieland Schmied put it, “sought to combine constructivism and objectivity, geometry and object, the general and the particular, avant-garde conviction and political engagement, and which perhaps approximated most to the forward looking of New Objectivity […] “.
Sander’s “Face of our Time” (Antlitz der Zeit) was published in 1929. It contains 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. 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.
Comparative photography and direct observation are expressions that aptly describe Sander’s methodological approach. They also express his intention to produce representations that were realistic and free of preconceived ideas. In the juxtaposition of series of photographs especially, he saw the possibility of drawing attention to the physiognomies and postures that were typical of different occupational groups, genders and generations as well as to the individuality of their members.
Under the Nazi regime, his work and personal life were greatly constrained. 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. Sander’s book Face of our Time was seized in 1936 and the photographic plates destroyed. Around 1942, during World War II, he 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.

… we know that people are formed by the light and air, by their inherited traits, and their actions. We can tell from appearance the work someone does or does not do; we can read in his face whether he is happy or troubled…” August Sander

The world’s largest collection of work by August Sander, is located at Die Photographische Sammlung der Kulturstiftung der Sparkasse KölnBonn. Including more than 5,000 original prints and around 11,000 original negatives, the work of August Sander is presented to the public in the form of publications and exhibitions.
In 2002, the August Sander Archive and scholar Susanne Lange published a seven-volume collection comprising some 650 of Sander’s photographs, August Sander: People of the 20th Century.
THE WIDOWER
This portrait of a widower is the only acknowledgement of death in the portfolio entitled The Family, though not within the whole of August Sander’s photographic opus ‘People of the 20th Century’ to which it belongs. Significantly, Sander includes it in the group ‘The Woman’, suggesting here that she is present by her absence. The bereaved stand close together, the father looking in three-quarter profile into the right distance, perhaps contemplating this missing figure. Flanking him, their shaved heads echoing his partially bald one, his two boys look back at the photographer. Emphasising the magnitude of his loss, the baby-faced widower appears only slightly taller than his sons, whose matching outfits and short pants suggest that they are still children. The widower photographed here also appears in the photograph ‘The Pastry Cook’ (1928) from the group ‘The Skilled Tradesman’.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: August Sander
Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur
August Sander Foundation
National Galleries Scotland

Portrait of a Woman, Senegal, ca. 1910

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Portrait of a Woman, Senegal (Unknown Artist / The Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York, Gift of Susan Mullin Vogel) ca. 1910

Portrait of a Woman, Senegal (Unknown Artist / The Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York, Gift of Susan Mullin Vogel) ca. 1910

The photograph, snapped by an artist as anonymous as the picture’s star, was part of an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art titled “In and Out of the Studio: Photographic Portraits from West Africa” (August 31, 2015–January 3, 2016)
In a culture in which the body had to be covered by clouds of crisp textiles, the face, hands, and feet were often all that was visible. Here, the woman’s hands, resting on top of one another on her abdomen, play an active role in the composition. The gesture allows the sitter to display an extensive array of jewelry: a silver ring, filigree-work bracelets, two necklaces, earrings, and golden pendants decorating her coiffure, which is set in a style called Nguuka. Created using black wool to produce two symmetrical voluminous spheres held by a textile on top of the head, this hairdo became popular in the first decades of the twentieth century among married women.
Few glass negatives have survived in Senegal from the early twentieth century. African art specialist Susan Mullin Vogel acquired this negative in Dakar in 1975. New York photographer Jerry L. Thompson produced the accompanying gelatin silver print that same year.
The exhibition, curated by Yaelle Biro with research from specialist Giulia Paoletti, explores how photographic technologies — which became available on the continent in the 1840s — evolved in local communities as a way of mining identity in an ever-changing space.
Instead of focusing on the European photojournalists and documentarians who visited the countries throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the show celebrates the local studios and artists who made the medium their own.
Exhibition Overview – This exhibition presents one hundred years of portrait photography in West Africa through nearly eighty photographs taken between the 1870s and the 1970s. These works, many of which are being shown for the first time, are drawn from the Metropolitan Museum’s Visual Resource Archives in the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, with additions from the Department of Photographs.
The installation seeks to expand our understanding of West African portrait photography by rendering the broad variety of these practices and aesthetics. It juxtaposes photographs, postcards, real photo postcards, and original negatives taken both inside and outside the studio by amateur and professional photographers active from Senegal to Cameroon and from Mali to Gabon. These photographers explored the possibilities of their medium, developing a rich aesthetic vocabulary through compelling self-portraits, staged images against painted backdrops or open landscapes, and casual snapshots of leisurely times. Regardless of their unique place in the history of photography in West Africa—from the formality of the earlier studio poses to the theatricality of Fosso’s fantasies—the sitter’s self-assured and unabashed presence fully engages the viewer.
Photography allowed artists and patrons alike to express their articulation of what modernity looked like—one that was constantly reinvented.
Pioneers of Photography – Photography arrived on the African continent as early as the 1840s. In a relatively short time, local communities adapted this new medium according to preexisting visual codes and traditions of portraiture. Starting in the 1860s, West African, Asian, European, and even African American photographers traveled along the Atlantic coast and founded temporary and permanent studios that catered to the local elite. At these studios, patrons carefully picked their style of dress and coiffures, and inaugurated the poses that would become the canon in photographic practices.
Sources/More to Read:
Met Museum: In and Out of the Studio, Photographic Portraits from West Africa
FOTOTA – Perspectives africaines en photographie: Interview with Giulia Paoletti, co-curator
The Huffington Post: Captivating portraits from West Africa reveal 100 Years of life across the Atlantic

A related post, in Colorem:
Solomon Osagie Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria, ca.1950’s

Anna Coleman Ladd’s Studio for Portrait Masks, Paris, 1918

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Soldiers Caudron and Cavalliet are playing cards, while wearing Ladd’s Portrait Masks (American Red Cross) 1918

Soldiers Caudron and Cavalliet are playing cards, while wearing Ladd’s Portrait Masks (American Red Cross) 1918

World War I caused the death of millions of combatants and civilians, while countless soldiers suffered from injury and disfigurement. Perhaps the most disheartening were facial injuries, as soldiers had to not only deal with the physical loss, but also the constant psychological stress of wondering how people would react to their changed appearance. These men worried about their homecoming, how they would be treated by friends and family. Many sustained injuries that went beyond the ability of surgery to repair. They were called “mutilés” – soldiers whose faces had been horribly disfigured by the weapons of war. Some were missing an eye, an ear or their nose; some were missing half their jaw or had horrible burns distorting their face. Many of the soldiers refused to leave the hospital. Some committed suicide.

People get used to seeing men with arms and legs missing, but they never get used to an abnormal face.
Lettie Gavin in “American Women in World War I”

The medical community couldn’t help them. These unfortunate soldiers turned to portrait masks. Pioneered by English sculptor Francis Derwent Wood (1871–1926), portrait masks were modelled from photographs taken before the injury and were painted in oils to resemble the former features of the patient.
When Wood was too old (at 41) to enlist in the Army at the onset of World War I, he volunteered in the hospital wards and his exposure to the gruesome injuries inflicted by the new war’s weapons eventually led him to open a special clinic: the Masks for Facial Disfigurement Department, located in the Third London General Hospital, Wandsworth. Instead of the rubber masks used conventionally, Wood constructed masks of thin metal, sculpted to match the portraits of the men in their pre-war normality. Just as had been happening with soldiers operated upon with the recent advances in plastic surgery, Wood’s masks provided each with a renewed self-confidence, even self-respect, though they often proved uncomfortable.
Wood’s work reached America in 1917, and eventually came to the attention of fellow sculptor, Anna Coleman Ladd.
Anna Coleman Ladd (née Watts) (1878–1939) was born in Philadelphia and educated in Europe, where she studied sculpture in Paris and Rome. She moved to Boston in 1905 when she married Dr. Maynard Ladd, and there studied for three years at the Boston Museum School.
In late 1917, Ladd felt an instant need to offer her skills to these recovering soldiers, and left for France under the sponsorship of the American Red Cross. She set up the “Studio for Portrait-Masks”, in Paris, to provide cosmetic masks to be worn by men who had been badly disfigured in war.
Soldiers would come to Ladd’s studio to have a cast made of their face and their features sculpted onto clay or plasticine. This form was then used to construct the prosthetic piece from extremely thin galvanized copper. Then, Ladd would paint the mask while it was on the soldier so that she could achieve a flesh color as close as possible to the real skin tone.
If the disfigurement included the entire mouth, she would model the lips with space to accommodate a cigarette holder.  For those who desired, a moustache could be added. Eyes were painted on if needed but eyelashes, eyebrows and even mustaches were created with fine copper wire that looked natural and would withstand the occasional mustachio twirling so popular with Frenchmen. Most masks were held in place with spectacles but, if a soldier didn’t want glasses, Ladd found alternative methods, like thin wire or ribbon, to secure the mask.
The average cost of the masks was only $18 due, in large part, to the fact that Ladd’s services were donated. Reports vary as to the number of masks that Ladd and her team created. Some say 60, others say over 100. But the impact on the lives of the soldiers they helped—and their families—is immeasurable.
One of Ladd’s patients was a man who had refused for more than two years to return home because he did not want his mother to see him. He lived in seclusion, hiding his gargoyle-like appearance, until he met Ladd.  Wearing the mask Ladd created for him, this young man was finally able to return to his family.
Ladd didn’t want to just hide the soldier’s disfigurement. She wanted to restore his sense of self – “his personality, his hopes and ambitions.” To do this she created a homelike environment where the men would feel at ease. In describing the studio, Ladd said:

“We always tried to keep the place cheerful and frequently had the boys sitting around playing games. . . .  We laughed with them and helped them to forget. That is what they longed for and deeply appreciated.”

After Ladd left Paris in December, 1918, her colleagues and assistants continued the work of the studio for another year before it closed. Her services earned her the Légion d’Honneur Croix de Chevalier and the Serbian Order of Saint Sava.
In 1936, Ladd retired with her husband to California, where she died in 1939.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: Anna Coleman Ladd
Wikipedia: Francis Derwent Wood
Red Cross Organisation: Restorative Face Masks for WWI Soldiers
Awesome Stories: Anna Coleman Ladd and her life
Smithsonian Magazine: Faces of War

Anna Coleman Ladd’s Studio for Portrait Masks in Paris

War Garden Girls, Washington D.C., 1919

Restoration & Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Restoration & Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

National Emergency War Gardens Commission. Girl Scouts and others. Washington D.C., 1919 (Harris & Ewing Collection / Library of Congress)

National Emergency War Gardens Commission. Girl Scouts and others. Washington D.C., 1919 (Harris & Ewing Collection / Library of Congress)

Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens planted at private residences and public parks in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany during World War I and World War II. They were used along with Rationing Stamps and Cards to reduce pressure on the public food supply.
Food production had fallen dramatically during World War I, especially in Europe, where agricultural labor had been recruited into military service and remaining farms devastated by the conflict.
In March 1917, Charles Lathrop Pack organized the US National War Garden Commission and launched the war garden campaign.
Charles Lathrop Pack (1857–1937), a third-generation timberman, was “one of the five wealthiest men in America prior to World War I”. During World War I, he was a principal organizer and was heavily involved in the war garden movement in the United States. Pack and others conceived the idea that the supply of food could be greatly increased without the use of land and manpower already engaged in agriculture, and without the significant use of transportation facilities needed for the war effort.

Poster for National War Garden Commission, by J.Paul Verrees, 1918

Poster for National War Garden Commission, by J.Paul Verrees, 1918

To support the home garden effort, a United States School Garden Army was launched through the Bureau of Education, and funded by the War Department at President Wilson’s direction.

Food will win the war.”
Pr. Woodrow Wilson

Besides indirectly aiding the war effort, these gardens were also considered a civil “morale booster” in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown. This made victory gardens a part of daily life on the home front. The campaign promoted the cultivation of available private and public lands, resulting in over five million gardens in the USA and foodstuff production exceeding $1.2 billion by the end of the war.
Sources / More to Read:
Wikipedia: Victory garden
Wikipedia: Charles Lathrop Pack
City Farmer: How the ‘National Emergency Food Garden Commission’ Will Help the Nation’s Food Supply
Library of Congress
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Red Cross Motor Corps, Washington D.C., 1917

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

A woman from West Virginia who worked for the Red Cross Motor Corps is photographed in Washington, D.C., 1917 (Harris & Ewing / Library of Congress)

A woman from West Virginia who worked for the Red Cross Motor Corps is photographed in Washington, D.C., 1917 (Harris & Ewing / Library of Congress)

The American Red Cross (ARC) is a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education inside the United States. It was established in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 1881, by Clara Barton, who became the first president of the organization. Clara Barton (1821–1912) founded the American chapter after learning of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1869, she went to Europe and became involved in the work of the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War, and determined to bring the organization home with her to America.
At the beginning of the WWI, the American Red Cross was a small organization still in the process of developing its identity and programs. When the United States declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917, the organization began a period of extraordinary growth. By the time the war ended in November 1918, the Red Cross had become a major national humanitarian organization with strong leadership, a huge membership base, universal recognition, and a broad and distinguished record of service.
American Red Cross Motor Corps was founded in 1917 by the American Red Cross (ARC). It was organized during World War I primarily to render supplementary aid to the Army and Navy, particularly in removing sick and wounded men from ships and trains to hospitals and homes. The service consisted almost entirely of women volunteers, most of whom used their own cars. Many enrolled in auto mechanics classes in order to be able to make repairs on their cars whenever needed.
The Service cooperate with other Red Cross Departments and Bureaus in calling for and delivering supplies; to carry canteen workers, with their supplies and equipment to points where troops in transit were to be provided with meals; to take Red Cross nurses, and Civilian Relief and Home Service workers on official errands; and to furnish transportation, without cost, for Red Cross activities generally, for local charities and hospitals and dispensaries, and for Liberty Loan Drives, Public Health work, and other government activities.
There was little glamour to attract worker’s to this service, for it was frequently very arduous, carried out under all kinds of conditions, in all weather, and at any time when there was need. In spite of this, the response to the first call for volunteers was generous. By war’s end, there were over 12,000 Motor Corps workers who had clocked a total of more than 3.5 million miles of service on America’s roads.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: American Red Cross
Wikipedia: American Red Cross Motor Corps
American Red Cross: World War I and the American Red Cross
Wikipedia: Clara Barton
witness2fashion: American Red Cross Service Uniforms, 1917
Library of Congress
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Red Cross Motor Corps, 1917, detail

Red Cross Motor Corps, 1917, detail

The Hotel Clarendon & aviator Glenn Curtiss, Daytona Beach, Florida, 1911

Colorization & Restoration by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization & Restoration by Manos Athanasiadis

Cars on beach with airplane overhead and Clarendon Hotel in background, Seabreeze, Daytona Beach, Florida, 1911 (William H. Gardiner / Library of Congress)

Cars on beach with airplane overhead and Clarendon Hotel in background, Seabreeze, Daytona Beach, Florida, 1911 (William H. Gardiner / Library of Congress)

Daytona Beach is a city in Volusia County, Florida, United States.
In 1871, Mathias Day Jr., purchased a 2,144.5 acre tract on the west bank of Halifax River. He built a hotel around which the initial section of town arose. In 1872, due to financial troubles, Day lost title to his land; nonetheless, residents decide to name the city Daytona in his honor, and incorporated the town in 1876.
In 1886, the St. Johns & Halifax River Railway arrived in Daytona. The line would be purchased in 1889 by Henry M. Flagler, who made it part of his Florida East Coast Railway. The separate towns of Daytona, Daytona Beach, Kingston, and Seabreeze merged as “Daytona Beach” in 1926. By the 1920s, it was dubbed “The World’s Most Famous Beach”.
Daytona’s wide beach of smooth, compacted sand attracted automobile and motorcycle races beginning in 1902, as pioneers in the industry tested their inventions. It hosted land speed record attempts, beginning in 1904, until 1935. On March 8, 1936, the first stock car race was held on the Daytona Beach Road Course. In 1958, William France Sr. and NASCAR created the Daytona International Speedway to replace the beach course. Automobiles are still permitted on most areas of the beach, at a maximum speed of 10 mph (16 km/h).
The Hotel Clarendon was built in 1895, when Charles Ballough combined his Seabreeze, Daytona Beach cottage property with a local businessman to turn the properties into a hotel. The hotel was complete with a casino, porches overlooking the ocean and a stable for horses and carriages.
In February of 1909, a fire broke out and the entire hotel was destroyed. A new Clarendon, designed and built to be fireproof, was opened on New Year’s Day in 1911. The seven-story hotel featured a Turkish bath, barbershop, manicure parlor, an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, and horseback riding facilities. In February of that same year, hotel management and local leaders hired well-known airplane mogul and pilot Glenn Curtiss to perform flying exhibitions on the beach as a tourist attraction. The resort’s reputation as a chic winter playground for American and International travellers spread rapidly. In 1925 it became the first resort hotel on the east coast of Florida to remain open throughout the year.
In 1942, The Clarendon Hotel closed down for the war effort. For two years, the hotel served as a barracks for the Woman’s Army Corps (WACs). The hotel reopened in June of 1944 with a new owner, and a new name, the Sheraton Plaza.
The hotel was later sold and renamed again as the Craig Hotel. In 1974, many of the furnishings of the hotel were sold, and the top floors of the hotel were removed. The hotel was reopened in 2000. Today is known as The Plaza Resort & Spa.
Glenn Hammond Curtiss (1878–1930) was an American aviation pioneer and a founder of the U.S. aircraft industry. He began his career as a bicycle racer and builder before moving on to motorcycles. As early as 1904, he began to manufacture engines for airships. Curtiss made the first officially witnessed flight in North America, won a race at the world’s first international air meet in France, and made the first long-distance flight in the United States. His contributions in designing and building aircraft led to the formation of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, now part of Curtiss-Wright Corporation.
The 1911 Curtiss Model D (or frequently, “Curtiss Pusher”) was an early United States pusher aircraft with the engine and propeller behind the pilot’s seat. The Model D was a biplane fitted with a wheeled tricycle undercarriage. It was among the very first aircraft in the world to be built in any quantity — all of which were produced during an era of trial-and-error development and equally important parallel technical development in internal combustion engine technologies. It was also the aircraft type which made the first takeoff from the deck of a ship and made the first landing aboard a ship in 1911.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: Daytona Beach, Florida
Daytona Beach’s Grand Resort: Plaza Resort and Spa
Wikipedia: Glenn Curtiss
Wikipedia: Curtiss Model D
Wikipedia: William H. Gardiner
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Daytona Beach 1911, detail

Elvira de Hidalgo, New York, ca. 1910

Elvira de Hidalgo

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

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Elvira de Hidalgo, around the time of her appearance with the Metropolitan Opera as Rosina in “The Barber of Seville” New York circa 1910 (Library of Congress)

MARIA CALLAS – Part 4
Elvira de Hidalgo (1891–1980) was a prominent Spanish coloratura soprano, who later became a pedagogue. Her most famous pupil was Maria Callas. She was born in Valderrobres, Teruel Province (Spain), as Elvira Juana Rodriguez Roglan.
She made her debut at the age of sixteen, at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, as Rosina in The Barber of Seville, which would become her best-known role. Following her debut, de Hidalgo was quickly engaged for Paris. Her debut with the New York Metropolitan Opera occurred in 1910, as Rosina. With that company, de Hidalgo sang in Rigoletto (with Enrico Caruso) and La sonnambula (with Alessandro Bonci) in the same season. In 1916, she made her debut at La Scala, Milan, as Rosina.
In 1924, she appeared in London with the British National Opera Company, at Covent Garden, in Rigoletto.
After she married the manager of a casino, in 1933 she retired to begin a career as a vocal coach and teacher, although she continued to give occasional concerts until 1936 and made a few last recordings. She became a professor at the Athens Conservatory and then, in 1940, the young soprano Maria Callas became her student.

Elvira de Hidalgo & Maria Callas, in Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Athens, 1950

Elvira de Hidalgo & Maria Callas, in Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Athens, 1950

De Hidalgo said of Maria Callas: “I knew when I met her first that she was unique. Her dark penetrating eyes and her wide, full mouth. She would come to my studio first thing each morning and stay right through my teaching day, listening to all the other lessons. She was inquisitive and wanted as much knowledge as I could give her. If I gave her a new aria one day she had it learned and memorized by the next lesson – often a day or two later. Her dedication was complete … I was always able to relax when Callas performed, unlike the anxiety I would experience in listening to my other students. I always felt at ease and comfortable, knowing she would sing beautifully.”
In 1957, Callas wrote of the woman who had an “essential role” in her artistic formation: “De Hidalgo had one method, which was the real bel canto way, where no matter how heavy a voice, it should always be kept light, it should always be worked on in a flexible way, never to weigh it down. It is a method of keeping the voice light and flexible and pushing the instrument into a certain zone where it might not be too large in sound, but penetrating. And teaching the scales, trills, all the bel canto embellishments, which is a whole vast language of its own… It is to this illustrious Spanish artist, whom the public and the old subscribers at La Scala will certainly recall as an unforgettable and superlative Rosina and as a splendid interpreter of other important roles, it is to this illustrious artist, I repeat, with a moved, devoted, and grateful heart, that I owe all my preparation and my artistic formation as an actress and musician. This elect woman, who, besides giving me her precious teaching, gave me her whole heart as well…”
Mme de Hidalgo died, aged 88, in Milan.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: Elvira de Hidalgo
Great Voices of Opera: A Lost Identity – Elvira de Hidalgo
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For more, see my other posts:
Part One – Maria Callas on the beach, 1956
Part Two – Aristotle Onassis & Maria Callas, London 1959
Part Three – Piero Tosi & Maria Callas, Milano 1955

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Portrait d’une jeune fille dans une cour, Tunis, ca. 1910

Portrait of a young girl in a courtyard, Tunis, circa 1910

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Le portrait d'une jeune fille dans une cour, (Lehnert et Landrock) circa 1910

Le portrait d’une jeune fille dans une cour, (Lehnert et Landrock) circa 1910

Lehnert & Landrock is the name of a photographic duo active in North Africa in the early 20th century, consisting of: Rudolf Franz Lehnert & Ernst Heinrich Landrock.
Lehnert (1878-1948) was born in Bohemia, then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Landrock (1878–1966) in Reinsdorf, Saxony.
In 1903 a walking tour across Europe led Lehnert to Palermo and from there to Tunisia. Overwhelmed by the beauty of the country he began what would become a lifelong career as a photographer. On his return to Europe Lehnert met Landrock in Switzerland and showed him his photographs. The two men returned to Tunis together where in 1904 they started their photographic atelier and business, publishing their works as: by “Lehnert & Landrock”.
Although the photographs they produced were signed with both their names, it was Lehnert who was the photographer and Landrock the businessman who made them possible. Landrock ran the studio in Tunis, managed the laboratory, organized Lehnert’s caravans into the desert, and marketed their products.
“People will still talk about my photographs after 200 years!” Lehnert used to say to his friend, when impatiently accuses him for his two months long desert safari in Tunisia. The photographs, which published in Leipzig, Germany, bring the expected success and reached worldwide fame.
There are several distinguishing features in Lehnert’s photography. Desert scenes are simple, but formally composed reflecting his early training as a painter and art student. Lone figures dwarfed by sand dunes forming one of his favourite motifs, the power of the desert over man.
There is also a large body of female nude work and of eroticized male adolescent images. These nude images often say more about the fantasies and culture of the photographers than about the portrayed cultures. From the 1860s onwards photographs of people with different cultural values and sexual morality became popular for artistic and erotic reasons.
In 1914 Lehnert starts another caravan trip; he rents camels to carry his heavy photographic equipment, dresses himself like the Bedouins, lives according the strong rules of the desert. When he returns to Tunis, he is shocked. In the meantime, the outbreak of the First World War took place, their shop was confiscated and Landrock, according to the German-French agreement, is interned to Engelberg in Switzerland. Lehnert, because of his Austrian citizenship accused of espionage and jailed in Algeria and Corsica. Thanks to the efforts of Landrock, later he interned in Davos, Switzerland until his release.
After the war, Lehnert and Landrock married Jenny Schmitt and Emilie Singer-Lambelet, respectively.
In 1919, Lehnert changed his citizenship to Czech, as Bohemia became part of Czechoslovakia (allied with France) and he get all his photographs back.

Lehnert & Landrock bookshop in 44 Sherif St. Downtown, Cairo, Egypt

Lehnert & Landrock bookshop in 44 Sherif St. Downtown, Cairo, Egypt

In 1924, Lehnert and Landrock re-established their studio in Cairo.
In 1930, Lehnert moved with his family to Tunisia and opened a photo studio in Tunis. Landrock continued in Cairo and in close partnership with his son-in-law Kurt Lambelet, overseeing the transformation of “Lehnert and Landrock” into a centre for fine art prints.
In 1938, Landrock sells his share to his stepson and returns to Germany. The company then firmed under the name Lehnert & Landrock – K. Lambelet.
In 1939 Lehnert retired to Carthage and when his wife died in 1944, he settled with his daughter and son-in-law at the Tunisian oasis of Gafsa, where he died in 1948.
Landrock never returned to Egypt and in 1966 he died in Switzerland.
The family of Kurt Lambelet expanded the business in Cairo, focusing more on books and art prints. Kurt Lambelet passed away in 1997 at age 92. His son Edouard Lambelet is now owner of the Lehnert & Landrock Bookshop and Art Gallery in Cairo.
There have been numerous articles and monographs about Lehnert & Landrock work and increasingly are becoming recognized as one of the best studios of its time.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: Rudolf Franz Lehnert
Wikipedia: Rudolf Franz Lehnert (en français)
Wikipedia: Ernst Heinrich Landrock
Luxor – West bank: The history of the two “Ls”
Deutsche Welle: The dangerous job of selling books in Cairo
Boudoir-Cards.de: Oriental (Erotic) Postcards
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Bombardier Billy Wells, New York, 1912

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Bombardier Billy Wells, preparing in Rye, N.Y., for fight with Al Panzer (New York Times / Library of Congress) June 26, 1912

Bombardier Billy Wells, preparing in Rye, N.Y., for fight with Al Panzer (New York Times / Library of Congress) June 26, 1912

William Thomas Wells (1889 – 1967), was an English heavyweight boxer. Fighting under the name “Bombardier Billy Wells“, he was British and British Empire Champion from 1911 until 1919, defending his title fourteen times. Wells was also famous for being the person to fill the role of the “Gongman” – the figure seen striking the gong in the introduction to J. Arthur Rank films.
Wells was born in the East End of London. He attended elementary school, until about the age of twelve, when he began to box as an amateur during this period.
In 1906, Wells joined the Royal Artillery as a gunner. He was posted to Rawalpindi where he boxed in divisional and all-India championships, with great success. He was promoted to a bombardier, and began training full-time with the help of a civilian coach. It became apparent that Wells was good enough to make a living from boxing, so in 1910, he bought himself out of the army and returned to Britain.
This was at a time when boxing was becoming very popular as a spectator sport, in Britain and elsewhere. In America, black boxers had dominated in the ring since the 1870s. For decades, the search had been on for a figure promoters habitually dubbed “the Great White Hope”, a white boxer capable of winning the World Heavyweight Championship. In 1910, Billy Wells, who had won the British Army of India boxing championship, was identified by newspapers as the next Great White Hope. It was the first time a British boxer had been fitted up for this role. The reigning heavyweight champion was the black American Jack Johnson. Johnson arrived in London for the fight in 1911, and started training in Essex – at pub in Chingford. By now opposition was building. Newspapers claimed Johnson had been offered “a king’s ransom” in cash to take a fall, and allow Wells to win. Opposition to the fight was led by Baptist church leader Frederick Meyer, who opposed the notion of “a battle between the races”. The battle turned political when the leader of the London County Council gave his opinion: “The sight of a black man pounding a white man cannot be considered for public entertainment.” A number of colonial governors suggested the fight could even lead to unrest in parts of the British Empire. Eventually, the Home Secretary, Winston Churchill, stepped in to officially ban the Wells-Johnson match. After that, no contest between a white man and a black man was seen in a British ring until 1947.

In 1911, Wells published the book "Modern Boxing: a Practical Guide to Present Day Methods"

In 1911, Wells published the book “Modern Boxing: a Practical Guide to Present Day Methods”

Wells fought for the British Heavyweight Title, in April 1911 against Iron (William) Hague, the holder, and Wells won by a knockout in the sixth round of twenty. In December 1911, Wells fought Fred Storbeck at Covent Garden for the British Empire Heavyweight Title, scoring a knockout in the eleventh round to gain his second title in one year. Wells continued to box and successfully defend his British heavyweight title, even after the start of World War I.
His boxing career wound down in 1925, but he continued to perform in front of the camera. A theatrical impresario, Billy McNamara, was struck by Wells’s “good looks and manly bearing”, and thought he, too, might be a natural for the stage. A number of leading men had begun their careers as sporting heroes.
Billy Wells made his debut as Jack Bandon, described as “both a fighter and a gentleman” and hero of a three-act play called Wanted-A-Man. Wells surprised everyone by indeed having a good deal of aptitude for acting. The play opened at the Hackney Empire, to glowing reviews. One critic wrote: “Billy scored a singular success as an actor and was something of a surprise. As a boxer, Billy is one of the most nervous people who ever entered a ring, but on the stage, he was confidence itself.”

Wells was Rank's gongman from 1936 until 1948

Wells was Rank’s gongman from 1936 until 1947

After this success, Billy was snapped up by film-makers. He was obviously a big movie fan as well. He had uncredited bit parts in Hitchcock’s The Ring (1927), King Vidor’s The Citadel (1938), George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara (1941), Michael Powell’s A Canterbury Tale (1944). His films, all boxing-related, have titles such as Kent – Fighting Man, and the Great Game. His apotheosis in the movies, was playing the hangman in Peter Brooks’ The Beggar’s Opera (1953) with Laurence Olivier.
So thus, his famous muscles made him a natural for the role of the gongman, from 1936 until 1947. The gongman was the logo of the Rank Organisation, the largest production and distribution house in the history of British cinema. The gongman film logo sequence depicts a muscular, bare-torsoed man slowly strikes a vast gong, with a deep resonant sound, twice. It was used as the introduction to all Rank films.
Bombardier Billy Wells, lived in Ealing, London and died there on 11 June 1967, aged 77. His ashes were laid to rest in the crypt of St. Mary’s parish church in Hanwell, west London.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: Bombardier Billy Wells
“Southend Standard”: Leigh pub’s famous boxer became Rank’s gong man
“Requited” Issue 14: The Gong Show
Wikipedia: Gongman
Wikipedia: Rank Organisation
Library of Congress
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