Miss Evelyn Nesbit, New York, 1903

Restoration & Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Restoration & Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Miss N [Portrait of Evelyn Nesbit, at a time when she was brought to the studio by Stanford White], (photo: Gertrude Käsebier), 1903

Miss N [Portrait of Evelyn Nesbit, at a time when she was brought to the studio by Stanford White], ( Gertrude Käsebier / Library of Congress), 1903

Florence Evelyn Nesbit (1884 – 1967), was a popular American chorus girl and artists’ model. Her career began in her early teens in Philadelphia and continued in New York, where she posed for a cadre of respected artists of the era.
By the time of her 16th birthday in 1900, Evelyn Nesbit was known to millions as the most photographed woman of her era, an iconic figure who set the standard for female beauty, and whose innocent sexuality was used to sell everything from chocolates to perfume. Soon after arriving in New York, Nesbit had become the mistress of millionaire architect Stanford White.
Stanford White (1853 – 1906) was considered the most distinguished architect of his day. He had designed more than fifty of New York’s most admired buildings, including the Madison Square Gardens and the Washington Square Arch. He was also a spectacular ladies-man, who kept several different mistresses at once, secreted in a number of love nests throughout the city. In one of his apartments, White kept Evelyn Nesbit, who he had despoiled upon her arrival in New York. He had fallen madly in love with her, despite the fact that at 47, White was nearly three times her age. Evelyn remained with White until she was 19 and at that point she left him and became involved with Harry Thaw.
Harry Kendall Thaw (1871 – 1947) was the son of Pittsburgh coal and railroad baron William Thaw, Sr. Heir to a multimillion-dollar mine and railroad fortune, Harry Thaw had a history of severe mental instability and led a profligate life.
In 1905, Nesbit, following her mother’s advice, she married him.
At the age of 34, Harry Thaw was slowly going insane. He persecuted Evelyn about her former relationship with White. Once, he beat her with a belt for hours and made her confess every sexual act in which she had engaged with Stanford White.
A year later, on June 25, 1906, Thaw and Evelyn, accompanied by two friends, attended the opening of a play at the dining theater on the roof of Madison Square Gardens. The theater was a frequent gathering place for New York society. Soon after taking their seats, Thaw noticed Stanford White being ushered to a table in the privileged section near the footlights. He approached his wife’s ex-lover, and shot him three times at point-blank range, twice in the face and once in the shoulder.
Nesbit became the star witness in a three-month trial (as the press call it “The Trial of the Century”) full of shocking details about her relationships with the two men. She claimed that as a stage performer, and while still a 14-year-old, she attracted the attention of Stanford White, who first gained the family’s trust and then sexually assaulted her while she was unconscious. Evelyn was cast in the press as ‘the girl in the red velvet swing’ in reference to a swing that White had installed in his luxurious, multi-storey apartment. Evelyn’s mother was accused of prostituting her daughter to White. Thaw was found not guilty by reason of insanity in a second trial, and spent eight years in an asylum for the criminally insane. Nesbit divorced Thaw in 1915.
In the 1920s, Nesbit became the proprietor of either a tearoom or speakeasy located in the West Fifties in Manhattan. It was during this period and well into the 1930s that Nesbit struggled with alcoholism and morphine addiction. During the 1930s she worked on burlesque stages throughout the country, though not as a stripper.
She published two memoirs, The Story of My Life (1914), and Prodigal Days (1934). During the years of World War II, Nesbit lived in Los Angeles, teaching ceramics and sculpting at the Grant Beach School of Arts and Crafts.
Nesbit died in a nursing home in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 82.
Gertrude Käsebier (1852–1934) was one of the most influential American photographers of the early 20th century. She was known for her evocative images of motherhood, her powerful portraits of Native Americans and her promotion of photography as a career for women. A major collection of her work is held by the University of Delaware.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: Evelyn Nesbit
Wikipedia: Stanford White
Wikipedia: Harry Kendall Thaw
Wikipedia: Gertrude Käsebier
“American Eve” by Paula Uruburu
BBC: The World’s First Supermodel
Dailymail: America’s supermodel, Evelyn Nesbit…
Affictor.com: Nesbit, in 1952 – “I’ve Discovered An Exciting New Career In Art”
Dead men do tell tales: The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing
Buy a Print:
Red Bubble

Treasures of New York: Stanford White




Walter Smith, 1924


Color by Manos Athanasiadis

Walter Smith

Mug shot of Walter Smith, 1924, location unknown (Justice & Police Museum, Sydney)

Special Photograph no. 1357. Walter Smith is listed in the NSW Police Gazette, 24 December 1924, as

“charged with breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Edward Mulligan and stealing blinds &c value 20 pounds (part recovered)”

and with “stealing clothing, value 26 pounds (recovered) in the dwelling house of Ernest Leslie Mortimer.” Sentenced to 6 months hard labour.

For more about special photographs, see my other post: De Gracy & Edward Dalton

“Συνελήφθη για διαρρήξη σε δύο σπίτια, όπου απέσπασε στόρια αξίας 20 λιρών και ρούχα αξίας 26 λιρών που μερικώς αποκαταστάθηκαν.” Καταδικάστηκε σε 6 μήνες καταναγκαστικά έργα. Μπορείτε να διαβάσετε περισσότερα για τις “ειδικές φωτογραφίες” που τραβήχτηκαν στο Αστυνομικό τμήμα του Σύντνεϋ, σε προηγούμενη μου ανάρτηση: De Gracy & Edward Dalton

William Stanley Moore, 1925


Color by Manos Athanasiadis

Mug shot of William Stanley Moore, 1925, Central Police Station, Sydney

Mug shot of William Stanley Moore, 1925 (Justice & Police Museum, Sydney)

Special Photograph no. 1399. Τhis picture appears in the Photo Supplement to the NSW Police Gazette, 28 July, 1926 captioned:

“Opium dealer./ Operates with large quantities of faked opium and cocaine./ A wharf labourer; associates with water front thieves and drug traders.”

For more, see my other post: De Gracy & Edward Dalton

“Έμπορος ναρκωτικών. Διακινούσε μεγάλες ποσότητες νοθευμένης κοκκαίνης και όπιου.” Πορτραίτο του συλληφθέντα, στο Κεντρικό Αστυνομικό Τμήμα του Σύντνεϋ, το 1925.
Μπορείτε να διαβάσετε περισσότερα για τις “ειδικές φωτογραφίες” που τραβήχτηκαν στο Αστυνομικό τμήμα του Σύντνεϋ, σε προηγούμενη μου ανάρτηση: De Gracy & Edward Dalton

De Gracy & Edward Dalton, ca.1920


Color by Manos Athanasiadis

De Gracy and Edward Dalton (mugshot), ca. 1920

Mug shot of De Gracy & Edward Dalton. Details unknown. Central Police Station, Sydney, ca. 1920

This picture is one of a series of around 2500 “special photographs” taken by New South Wales Police Department photographers between 1910 and 1930. These “special photographs” were mostly taken in the cells at the Central Police Station, Sydney and are, as curator Peter Doyle explains, of “men and women recently plucked from the street, often still animated by the dramas surrounding their apprehension”. Doyle suggests that, compared with the subjects of prison mug shots, “the subjects of the Special Photographs seem to have been allowed – perhaps invited – to position and compose themselves for the camera as they liked. Their photographic identity thus seems constructed out of a potent alchemy of inborn disposition, personal history, learned habits and idiosyncrasies, chosen personal style (haircut, clothing, accessories) and physical characteristics.”
Justice & Police Museum, Sydney
SCAN: journal of media arts culture

Το Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales (HHT) (τώρα Sydney Living Museums) είναι ένας οργανισμος διατήρησης της πολιτιστικής κληρονομιάς στην Αυστραλία. Το 1990, κατάφερε να διασώσει από μια πλημμυρισμένη αποθήκη το εγκληματολογικό αρχείο της Αστυνομίας της Νέας Νότιας Ουαλλίας. Το αρχείο περιείχε περίπου 130.000 γυάλινες φωτογραφικές πλάκες, από το 1912 ως το 1934, που απεικόνιζαν σκηνές εγκλημάτων & ατυχημάτων, στοιχεία ιατροδικαστικής έρευνας, διάφορες δραστηριότητες της αστυνομίας και τα πορτραίτα συλληφθέντων (mugshots).
Μετά την αρχειοθέτηση και αποκατάσταση των φωτογραφιών ανακαλύφθηκαν κάποια ασυνήθιστα πορτραίτα. Περίπου 2.500 ανήκαν στην κατηγορία “ειδικές φωτογραφίες” και τραβήχτηκαν στα κελιά του Κεντρικού Αστυνομικού τμήματος του Σύντνεϋ, όπου οι συλληφθέντες, άντρες και γυναίκες, πόζαραν όπως ήθελαν οι ίδιοι. Το αποτέλεσμα είναι εντυπωσιακό. Κάποιες απ’ αυτές, θα μπορούσαν να είναι φωτογραφήσεις υψηλής μόδας ή το πρότζεκτ ένας σπουδαίου σύγχρονου φωτογράφου.
Το 2014, έγινε μια έκθεση στο Μουσείο Δικαιοσύνης & Αστυνομίας του Σύντνεϋ με αυτά τα πορτραίτα ενώ παλαιότερα είχαν εκδοθεί δύο βιβλία σχετικά (City of shadows και Crooks Like Us) από τον Peter Doyle, επιμελητή του αρχείου. Στους πιο πάνω συνδέσμους μπορείτε να δείτε τις φωτογραφίες του μουσείου και την ιστορία που κρύβεται πίσω από τα πρόσωπα που εικονίζονται, όπως επίσης και να διαβάσετε ένα σχετικό άρθρο του Doyle.