‘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

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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

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 vice.com)
Sources / More to read:
Vice : Charming Pornographic Photographs of French Prostitutes from the 1930s
La manufacture des livres: Mauvaises filles
Amazon.co.uk: Mauvaises filles, Portraits de prostituées 1925-1935

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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.

THE NATIONAL SOCIALIST
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

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Margot Fonteyn, London, 1935

Emil Otto Hoppé – Part Two
Colorization & Restoration by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization & Restoration by Manos Athanasiadis

Margot Fonteyn, 1935 (Curatorial Assistance, Inc. / E.O. Hoppé Estate Collection)

Margot Fonteyn by E.O.Hoppé, 1935 (Curatorial Assistance, Inc. / E.O. Hoppé Estate Collection)

Dame Margot Fonteyn de Arias, DBE (1919 – 1991), was an English ballerina.
Fonteyn was born Margaret Evelyn Hookham in Reigate, Surrey. Her father, Felix, was a British engineer and her mother, Hilda, was half Irish and half Brazilian, the daughter of Brazilian industrialist Antonio Fontes. Very early in her career Margaret took the name by which she was known all her life, “Margot Fonteyn”, with surname derived from “Fontes”, also adopted by her brother—Portuguese “fonte” is “fountain” in modern English, “fonteyn” in Middle English. Her later formal married name was “Margot Fonteyn de Arias”, in the Spanish-language tradition.
At four years of age her mother signed her and her elder brother up for ballet classes. At age eight, Margot traveled to China with her mother and father, who had taken employment with a tobacco company there. For six years Margot lived in TianJin, then in Shanghai, where she studied ballet with Russian emigre teacher George Goncharov. Her mother brought her back to London when she was 14, to pursue a ballet career.
In 1933 Fonteyn joined the Vic-Wells Ballet School, (later Royal Ballet School) which was founded by Ninette de Valois in 1928.  De Valois believed in Fonteyn’s talent and pushed her through difficult moments.By 1939 Fonteyn had performed principal roles in Giselle, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty and was appointed Prima Ballerina. Until then all leading dancers in Britain had been Russian or French.
In the 1940s she and Robert Helpmann formed a very successful dance partnership, and they toured together for several years. When the Royal Ballet toured the United States in 1949, Fonteyn instantly became a celebrity for her performances. In the 1950s she danced regularly with Michael Somes.
In 1951 Fonteyn was decorated a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and in 1956 she became Dame of the Order of the British Empire, after which she was known as Dame Margot Fonteyn.
Fonteyn began her greatest artistic partnership at a time when many people thought she was about to retire. In 1961 Rudolf Nureyev defected to the West, and on 21 February 1962 he and Fonteyn first performed together in Giselle. She was 42 and he was 24. Their performance was a great success. They created an on-and-offstage partnership that lasted until her retirement in 1979 at age 61. Fonteyn and Nureyev became known for inspiring repeated frenzied curtain calls and bouquet tosses. Despite differences in background and temperament, and a 19-year gap in ages, Nureyev and Fonteyn became close lifelong friends and were famously loyal to each other.
During the late 1930s and early 1940s Fonteyn had a long relationship with composer Constant Lambert. In 1955, at age 36, she married in Paris a man she had met in her youth: Robert E. Arias, “Tito,” the son of the former president of Panama who became the Panamanian ambassador in London. In 1959, whilst Margot continued her successful career, Arias planned an armed invasion to Panama City. Fonteyn was arrested for helping Arias to attempt a coup d’etat against the government. Confidential British government files released in 2010 showed that Fonteyn knew of and had some involvement in the coup attempt. In 1964 a rival Panamanian politician shot Arias, leaving him a quadriplegic for the rest of his life.
In 1979, Fonteyn made her last stage appearance and received, from the Royal Ballet in England, the title “prima ballerina assoluta,” a title only given to three ballerinas in the 20th century. After her retirement Fonteyn spent all her time in Panama, and was close to her husband and his children from an earlier marriage. She had no pension, and had spent all her savings looking after her husband. Shortly before her husband’s death, in 1989, Fonteyn was diagnosed with a cancer that proved fatal. She died on 21 February 1991 in a hospital in Panama City, Panama, aged 71.
Emil Otto Hoppé (1878–1972) was a German-born British portrait, travel, and topographic photographer active between 1907 and 1945. Hoppé was one of the most important photographic artists of his era and highly celebrated in his time. He was the undisputed leader of pictorial portraiture in Europe. In the 1930s Hoppé photographed a number of dancers at the Vic-Wells company including Margot Fonteyn, Ninette de Valois, Hermione Darnborough and Beatrice Appleyard.
Sources / More to Read:
Wikipedia: Margot Fonteyn
Daily Mail: Fonteyn in Panama coup attempt
Wikipedia: E.O. Hoppé

Anna May Wong, by George Hurrell, 1938

Colorization & Restoration by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization & Restoration by Manos Athanasiadis

Anna May Wong (photo: George Hurell) 1938

Anna May Wong (photo: George Hurell) 1938

Anna May Wong (born Wong Liu Tsong, 1905–1961) was an American actress. She is considered to be the first Chinese American movie star, and also the first Asian American actress to gain international recognition. Her long and varied career spanned silent film, sound film, television, stage and radio.
Born in Los Angeles to second-generation Chinese-American parents, Wong became infatuated with the movies and began acting in films at an early age. During the silent film era, she acted in The Toll of the Sea (1922), one of the first movies made in color. Her big breakthrough came when Douglas Fairbanks cast her in a supporting role as a treacherous Mongol slave in The Thief of Bagdad (1924). The $2-million blockbuster production made her known to critics and the movie-going public. For better or worse, a star, albeit of the stereotypical “Dragon Lady” type, was born.
Despite her waxing fame, she was limited to supporting roles, as Caucasian actresses, continued to be cast as Asian women in lead roles. She was unable to attract lead parts despite her beauty and proven acting talent, even in films featuring Asian women. The characters she played typically were duplicitous or murderous vamps that often reaped the wages of their sin by being raped. Frustrated by the stereotypical supporting roles she reluctantly played in Hollywood, Wong left for Europe in the late 1920s, where she starred in several notable plays and films. European directors appreciated Wong’s unique talents and beauty, and they used her in ways that stereotype-minded Hollywood, hemmed in by American prejudice, would not or could not. Moving to Germany to appear in German films, she became acquainted with German film personalities, including Marlene Dietrich and Leni Riefenstahl. She learned German and French and began to develop a continental European attitude and outlook. Anna May Wong was featured in magazines all over the world, she became a media superstar, and her coiffure and complexion were copied, while “coolie coats” became the rage. The 170-cm-tall beauty was known as the world’s best-dressed woman and widely considered to have the loveliest hands in the cinema.
She spent the first half of the 1930s traveling between the United States and Europe for film and stage work. Her best role in Hollywood in the early 1930s was in support of Marlene Dietrich in Oscar-winning classic Shanghai Express (1932). However, Hollywood in the 1930s was as racist as it had been in the Roaring Twenties, and MGM refused to cast her in its 1932 production of The Son-Daughter (1932), for which she did a screen-test, as she was “too Chinese to play a Chinese.”
In 1935 Wong was dealt the most severe disappointment of her career, when MGM refused to consider her for the leading role of the Chinese character O-Lan in the film The Good Earth, choosing instead the German actress Luise Rainer to play the leading role. Albert Lewin, the Thalberg assistant who was casting the film, vetoed Wong and other ethnic Chinese because their looks didn’t fit his conception of what Chinese people should look like. Ironically, the year “The Good Earth” came out, Wong appeared on the cover of Look Magazine’s second issue, which labeled her “The World’s Most Beautiful Chinese Girl.” Luise Rainer would win the Best Actress Oscar for her performance of O-Lan in Chinese drag.
Wong spent the next year touring China, visiting her family’s ancestral village and studying Chinese culture. Though Wong was one of Hollywood’s more memorable victims of racism in being denied leading roles in A-list pictures because the racist mores of the times prevented an Asian woman from kissing a Caucasian actor, she was considered socially suspect by her own people. The roles she was forced to accept in order to have an acting career, as well as her status as a single woman disgusted many Chinese in America and in her ancestral homeland, where actresses were equated with prostitutes and where women were still played by men in classical opera. On her trip, Anna May was welcomed by the country’s cultural elite in cosmopolitan Beijing and Shanghai, but she had to abandon a trip to her parents’ ancestral village when her progress was blocked by a crowd of protesters.
Wong’s personal relationships typically were with older Caucasian men, but California law forbade marriage between Asians and Caucasians until 1948. One of her white lovers offered to marry her in Mexico, but the couple’s intentions became known and he backed off when his Hollywood career was jeopardized. Wong mused about marrying a Chinese man at times, but the Chinese culture held actresses to be on a par with prostitutes, which made her suspect marriage material. She was afraid that the mores of her culture likely meant that marrying a Chinese would force her to quit her career and be an obedient wife.
Anna May Wong loved reading, and her favorite subjects spanned a wide range, everything from Asian history and Tzu Lao to William Shakespeare. She never married but occupied her time with golf, horses, and skiing. Wong smoked, drank too much, and suffered from depression.
In the late 1930s, she starred in several B movies for Paramount Pictures, portraying Chinese Americans in a positive light. She paid less attention to her film career during World War II, when she devoted her time and money to helping the Chinese cause against Japan. Wong returned to the public eye in the 1950s in several television appearances. In 1951, she made history with her TV show The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong, the first ever U.S. television show starring an Asian American series lead.
She had been planning to return to film in Flower Drum Song when she died of a massive heart attack on February 3, 1961, in Santa Monica, CA, after a long struggle against Laennec’s cirrhosis, a disease of the liver. She was 56 years old.
For decades after her death, Wong was remembered principally for the stereotypical “Dragon Lady” and demure “Butterfly” roles that she was often given. Her life and career were re-evaluated in the years around the centennial of her birth, in three major literary works and film retrospectives.
George Edward Hurrell (1904–1992) was a photographer who contributed to the image of glamour presented by Hollywood during the 1930s and 1940s.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Hurrell originally studied as a painter with no particular interest in photography. He first began to use photography only as a medium for recording his paintings. After moving to Laguna Beach, California from Chicago, Illinois in 1925 he met many other painters who had connections. One of those connections was Edward Steichen who encouraged him to pursue photography after seeing some of his works. Hurrell eventually opened a photographic studio in Los Angeles.
In the late 1920s, Hurrell was introduced to the actor Ramon Novarro and agreed to take a series of photographs of him. Novarro was impressed with the results and showed them to the actress Norma Shearer, who was attempting to mould her wholesome image into something more glamorous and sophisticated in an attempt to land the title role in the movie The Divorcee. She asked Hurrell to photograph her in poses more provocative than her fans had seen before. After she showed these photographs to her husband, MGM production chief Irving Thalberg, Thalberg was so impressed that he signed Hurrell to a contract with MGM Studios, making him head of the portrait photography department. But in 1932, Hurrell left MGM after differences with their publicity head, and from then on until 1938 ran his own studio. Throughout the decade, Hurrell photographed every star contracted to MGM, and his striking black-and-white images were used extensively in the marketing of these stars.
In the early 1940s Hurrell moved to Warner Brothers Studios and later in the decade, he moved to Columbia Pictures where his photographs were used to help the studio build the career of Rita Hayworth.
He left Hollywood briefly to make training films for the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces. When he returned to Hollywood in the mid-1950s his old style of glamour had fallen from favour. Where he had worked hard to create an idealised image of his subjects, the new style of Hollywood glamour was more earthy and gritty, and for the first time in his career Hurrell’s style was not in demand. He moved to New York and worked for the advertising industry where glamour was still valued. He continued his work for fashion magazines and photographed for print advertisements for several years before returning to Hollywood in the 1960s.
Hurrell died from complications from bladder cancer shortly after completing a TBS documentary about his life. He died on May 17, 1992.
Since his death, his vintage works have continued to appreciate in value and examples of his artistic output can be found in the permanent collections of numerous museums around the world.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: Anna May Wong
Wikipedia: George Hurrell
George Hurrell Official Site
Scandalous Women: Anna May Wong
IMDb: Anna May Wong
BuzzFeed: Anne Helen Petersen’s “Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema” (bonus chapter)

Costică Acsinte’s Foto Splendid Studio, Romania, 1935-1945

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Young girl (Costică Acsinte) 1935-1940

Young girl (Costică Acsinte) 1935-1940

Young girl (Costică Acsinte) 1935-1940

Young girl (Costică Acsinte) 1935-1940

Constantin Axinte (1897-1984) known as Costică Acsinte, was a Romanian photographer, born in the village of Perieți, Ialomița County, Romania. At the age of 18 he graduated from the Cotroceni Piloting School in Bucharest, but he did not obtain the pilot license. After serving as a Romanian war photographer from World War I through 1920, Acsinte settled in Slobozia in the south of the country. In 1930 he set up a studio called Foto Splendid Acsinte. There he proceeded to document the surrounding community in over 5,000 images. He retired in 1960 and his studio being demolished shortly after. Acsinte died in 1984, and the glass-plate negatives were mostly forgotten and left in storage.
This documentation of Romania centered between 1935 and 1945 could have been totally lost if it weren’t for the Ialomița County Museum, which acquired all 5,000 of the plates in the 1990s. Marked by time and entropy, these decaying photos of Romanian life in the lead-up to World War II take on a haunting, melancholy quality. Many of the fragile glass plates had sustained damage over the years, warped by heat and moisture, the glass cracked and splintered, the delicate silver gelatin emulsion peeled, flaked and sloughed off. The destruction of the photos added a new artistic layer, by accident. Beyond the psychedelic swirls of their shrinking, pealing emulsion, next to nothing is known about the subjects of the photographs. The greater part of their allure comes not from the information revealed, but from what is obscured and denied to the viewer.
The photos have since fallen into the public domain, and photographer Cezar Popescu has been collaborating with the museum on digitizing all of Costica Acsinte’s images. Now, Popescu is crowdfunding to complete the project and improve the storage facilities of the delicate glass plates.

Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: Costică Acsinte
Costică Acsinte Archive
Flickr: Costică Acsinte
Mashable: 1930-1945, Beauty in decay
Jane Long Photography: Dancing with Costică
Dailymail Online: Ghosts from the land that time forgot

Marx Brothers, A Night at the Opera, 1935

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Groucho, Chico, and Harpo Marx w/ cast in the stateroom scene from "A Night at the Opera" (1935)

Groucho, Chico, and Harpo Marx w/ cast in the stateroom scene from “A Night at the Opera” (1935)

The Marx Brothers were a family comedy act that was successful in vaudeville, on Broadway, and in motion pictures from 1905 to 1949. The group are almost universally known today by their stage names: Chico (Leonard Marx; 1887–1961), Harpo (Arthur Marx, born Adolph Marx; 1888–1964), Groucho (Julius Henry Marx; 1890–1977), Gummo (Milton Marx; 1893–1977), and Zeppo (Herbert Manfred Marx; 1901 –1979). The core of the act was the three elder brothers: Chico, Harpo, and Groucho. Each developed a highly distinctive stage persona.
Harpo and Chico “more or less retired” after 1949, while Groucho began a second career and became a well-known television host. Gummo was not in any of the movies; Zeppo appeared in the first five films in relatively straight (non-comedic) roles. They both left performing to run a large theatrical agency, through which they represented their brothers as well as others at times.
By the 1920s, the Marx Brothers had become one of America’s favorite theatrical acts, with their sharp and bizarre sense of humor. They satirized high society and human hypocrisy, and they became famous for their improvisational comedy in free-form scenarios. The Marx Brothers’ stage shows became popular just as motion pictures were evolving to “talkies”. They signed a contract with Paramount Pictures and embarked on their film career at Paramount studios. Their first two released films were adaptations of the Broadway shows The Cocoanuts (1929) and Animal Crackers (1930). Both were written by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind. Their third feature-length film, Monkey Business (1931), was their first movie not based on a stage production. Horse Feathers (1932), was their most popular film yet, and won them the cover of Time. Their last Paramount film, Duck Soup (1933), directed by the highly regarded Leo McCarey, is the highest rated of the five Marx Brothers films on the American Film Institute’s list.
After expiration of the Paramount contract Zeppo left the act to become an agent. Groucho and Chico did radio, and there was talk of returning to Broadway. At a bridge game with Chico, Irving Thalberg began discussing the possibility of the Marxes joining Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. They signed, now billed as “Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Marx Bros.”

Is it my imagination, or is it getting crowded in here?” Groucho Marx

A Night at the Opera (1935) was the first film made for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer starring the Marx Brothers, and featuring Kitty Carlisle, Allan Jones, Margaret Dumont, Sig Ruman, and Walter Woolf King. It was a satire on the world of opera, where the brothers help two young singers in love by throwing a production of “Il Trovatore” into chaos. At the suggestion of Thalberg, the film marked a change of direction in the brothers’ career. In their Paramount films, the brothers’ characters were much more anarchic: they attacked anybody who was so unfortunate to cross their paths whether they deserved it or not, albeit comically. Thalberg, however, felt that this made the brothers unsympathetic, particularly to female filmgoers. So in the MGM films, the brothers were recast as more helpful characters, saving their comic attacks for the villains.
There is a famous scene in the film where an absurd number of people crowd into a tiny stateroom on a ship. The Stateroom scene developed with participation of Buster Keaton and became one of the most famous comedy scenes of all time.

Two years later, A Day at the Races (1937), was an even bigger hit, in which the brothers cause mayhem in a sanitarium and at a horse race. Despite the Thalberg films’ success, the brothers left MGM in 1937; Thalberg had died suddenly during filming of A Day at the Races, leaving the Marxes without an advocate at the studio.
After a short experience at RKO (Room Service, 1938), the Marx Brothers returned to MGM and made three more films: At the Circus (1939), Go West (1940) and The Big Store (1941). Prior to the release of The Big Store the team announced they were retiring from the screen. Four years later, however, Chico persuaded his brothers to make two additional films, A Night in Casablanca (1946) and Love Happy (1949), to alleviate his severe gambling debts. Both pictures were released by United Artists.
From the 1940s onward Chico and Harpo appeared separately and together in nightclubs and casinos. Chico fronted a big band, the Chico Marx Orchestra. Groucho made several radio appearances during the 1940s and starred in You Bet Your Life, which ran from 1947 to 1961 on NBC radio and television.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: Marx Brothers
Wikipedia: A Night at the Opera
IMDb: A Night at the Opera
Marx Brothers – Night at the Opera Treasury
Wikipedia: Chico Marx
Wikipedia: Harpo Marx
Wikipedia: Groucho Marx
Wikipedia: Gummo Marx
Wikipedia: Zeppo Marx
Wikipedia: Irving Thalberg

Men in the Great Depression, 1937

Colorization By Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization & Restoration by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization By Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization By Manos Athanasiadis

A migrant packinghouse worker, Deerfield, Florida, 1937, (Arthur Rothstein / Library of Congress)

A migrant packinghouse worker, Deerfield, Florida, 1937, (Arthur Rothstein / Library of Congress)

A migrant worker from Oklahoma, Deerfield, Florida, 1937 (Arthur Rothstein / Library of Congress)

A migrant worker from Oklahoma, Deerfield, Florida, 1937 (Arthur Rothstein / Library of Congress)

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression which started in 1930 and lasted until the late 1930s.
Industries that suffered the most included construction, agriculture as dust-bowl conditions persisted in the agricultural heartland, shipping, mining, and logging as well as durable goods like automobiles and appliances that could be postponed. The Depression also resulted in the mass migration of people from badly hit areas in the Great Plains and the South to places such as California and the North, respectively.
The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms that greatly damaged the ecology and agriculture of the US and Canadian prairies during the 1930s; severe drought and a failure to apply dryland farming methods to prevent wind erosion caused the phenomenon. With insufficient understanding of the ecology of the Plains, farmers had conducted extensive deep plowing of the virgin topsoil of the Great Plains during the previous decade; this had displaced the native, deep-rooted grasses that normally trapped soil and moisture even during periods of drought and high winds. The rapid mechanization of farm equipment, especially small gasoline tractors, and widespread use of the combine harvester contributed to farmers’ decisions to convert arid grassland to cultivated cropland. During the drought of the 1930s, the unanchored soil turned to dust, which the prevailing winds blew away in huge clouds that sometimes blackened the sky. The Dust Bowl forced tens of thousands of families to abandon their farms. Many of these families, who were often known as “Okies” because so many of them came from Oklahoma, migrated to California and other states. The term came to be known in the 1930s as the standard term for those who had lost everything and were struggling the most during the Great Depression. The Dust Bowl exodus was the largest migration in American history within a short period of time. Between 1930 and 1940, approximately 3.5 million people moved out of the Plains states.
The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was created in the Department of Agriculture in 1937. It was a New Deal program designed to assist poor farmers during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. The photographs of the Farm Security Administration Photograph Collection form an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944. This U.S. government photography project was headed by Roy E. Stryker. Roy Emerson Stryker (1893-1975) was an American economist, government official, and photographer. He employed such photographers as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shahn, Jack Delano, Marion Post Wolcott, Gordon Parks, John Vachon, and Carl Mydans. Those photographers wanted the government to move and give a hand to the people as they were completely neglected and overlooked and thus they decided to start taking photographs in a style that we today call “documentary photography.” Under Stryker, the FSA adopted a goal of “introducing America to Americans.” His agenda focused on his faith in social engineering, the poor conditions among tenant cotton farmers, and the very poor conditions among migrant farm workers; above all he was committed to social reform through New Deal intervention in people’s lives.
Arthur Rothstein (1915 – 1985) was an American photographer. He is recognized as one of America’s premier photojournalists. During a career that spanned five decades, he provoked, entertained and informed the American people. His photographs ranged from a hometown baseball game to the drama of war, from struggling rural farmers to US Presidents.
Following his graduation from Columbia in 1934, Rothstein was invited to Washington DC by Roy Stryker, one of his professors at Columbia, to set up the darkroom for Stryker’s Photo Unit of the Historical Section of the Resettlement Administration (RA), which became the Farm Security Administration (FSA) in 1937. During the next five years, Rothstein shot some of the most significant photographs ever taken of rural and small-town America. He and the other FSA photographers were employed to publicize the living conditions of the rural poor in the United States.
In 1940 Rothstein became a staff photographer for Look magazine but left shortly thereafter to join the US Army as a photographer in the Signal Corps. In 1947 he rejoined Look as Director of Photography. He remained at Look until 1971 when the magazine ceased publication. Rothstein joined Parade magazine in 1972 as Director of Photography and remained there until his death.
Sources / More to Read:
Wikipedia: Great Depression
Wikipedia: Dust Bowl
Wikipedia: Farm Security Administration
Wikipedia: Roy Stryker
Wikipedia: Arthur Rothstein
Library of Congress: Arthur Rothstein
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Jeanne Juilla, Miss Europe, ca. 1930’s

Jeanne Juilla on french postcard, ca. 1930's

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

French postcard of Jeanne Juilla, ca. 1930's

French postcard of Jeanne Juilla, ca. 1930’s

A French postcard is a small, postcard-sized photograph of a nude or semi-nude woman. Such erotic cards were produced in great volume, primarily in France, in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Because nudity was seen so far only in classic paintings, people were excited by the new technique of photography, which made it possible to collect erotic images otherwise not accessible apart from expensive artworks. New industrial reproduction techniques allowed publishers of postcards to sell large amounts of various series. The cards were sold as postcards, but the primary purpose was not for sending by mail, as they would have been banned from delivery. Due to the contemporary moral and law, these cards were usually sold and traded discretely in stores or by street dealers.
Most of the photographers kept their work anonymous by using acronymic signatures. They didn’t want to risk their public reputation, or to get in troubles with the law. Nevertheless photographers in Paris like Jean Agélou, Louis Amedée Mante or Julian Mandel produced numerous series of semi-nude and nude photographs of a large variety of anonymous models. Modelling for nude photography was kept secretly too. This is why there are only a very few known names of artists from theatre or music halls.
Jeanne Juilla, born in 1910 at Villeneuve-sur-Lot (Lot-et-Garonne), France, was a model and actress. She elected Miss Garonne in 1930 and Miss France the next year. On February 5, 1931, in Paris, she became the first French Miss Europe, among the representatives of 16 European countries.
Being a contestant for Miss Europe was tough. In the countries that already had pageants, the girls began in small contests and worked their way up, from local cantons to provinces and finally the capital. The contestants had to possess those genuine, innocent yet sensual charms. Some entrants came from privileged backgrounds, where they had been taught the etiquette of table manners and the art of small talk from an early age, but the judges could also be touched by a young lady’s journey from small town baker’s daughter to culture symbol to the metropolis. Such a girl had led a wholesome, positive life, a role model the world.

“My greatest ambition is to make my mother happy. I will not go on the stage or screen. Just a few weeks ago I saw a large city for the first time—Paris!” Jeanne Juilla, Miss Europe 1931: Time Magazine, Feb. 16, 1931

It was a standard for the winners of such beauty-pageants to have several types of photo shoots, and some were in nude. Jeanne Juilla, was above average in height with hazel eyes of bluish/greenish/grey, and dark hair. She worked as a dress maker with her mother in a small business in Villeneuve-Sur-Lot, where she spent the greater part of her life, according to “The Straits Times, 18 April 1931”.
Tracing what happened to the various contestants after they won turns up precious little. A few moved on to acting or modelling careers, usually short lived and unspectacular. For most the beauty pageant was their one brief brush with fame.
Jeanne Juilla’s filmography: His best client (1932), The Prison of St. Chlothaire (1934), A woman chipée (1934), Samson (1936).
Sources / More to read:
Wikipedia: French postcard
Wikipedia: Jeanne Juilla
Boudoir-Cards: French (Erotic) Postcards
Boudoir-Cards: Jeanne Juilla
One Man’s Treasure: Pageants of Pulchritude