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FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 479

updated
Saturday, 18 November 2006

POSING FOR PICTURES
HOW STAGE FAVORITES ACT BEFORE
THE PHOTOGRAPHER'S CAMERA.
Jannaacheck's Eccentricities -
'Poetry' Portraits at Any Sacrifice of Accuracy -
Lotta's Little Feet - Other Gossip from the Artist's Studio, 1882

Mary Anderson

Mary Anderson (1849-1940), American actress and singer

(photo: W. & D. Downey, London, circa 1885)

'During the past week Mary Anderson has been posing before the camera. She was photographed in nearly all of the parts in which she appears on the stage. Miss Anderson is known as "as good subject," understands the art of dressing effectively, knows how to pose to the best advantage, and has learned just when expressions take best, not only with the instrument, but with the public. On the theory that for the purposes of the stage there can be no better advertisement than an attractive photograph, actresses and prima donnas almost without exception have now adopted that manner of introducing themselves to managers and the public in advance of their appearance. To some great stars and celebrities it is a source of revenue.
'Actresses in general like to be photographed. There are but few exceptions to the rule. Madam Theo, who will not permit her pictures to be sold at all, is one. All photographers who have had anything to do with them seem to agree that actresses in general are more particular about having their dresses properly photographed than they are about having their personal charms advantageously presented. Madame Janauschek is an exception. She insists on assuming her own poses, will not allow the photographer to touch her and lets the drapery take care of itself. "Just as I am, so represent me," she said to the operator when she last say in this city. "I desire to be natural and hate all that is artificial. I am true to nature on the stage and desire to be true off of it." She then threw herself into the chair and said: "As my dress falls about me so represent it. I desire to be perfectly natural." When the great tragedienne saw the proofs, however, of these pictures that were "perfectly natural" she was shocked beyond measure and pronounced them "dreadful." She eagerly consented to allow the resources of the photographer's art to come to her aid, and one of the first things done to the negative was to take the waist in several inches by etching and make other parts of the figure more symmetrical.

Mrs Jeffreys Lewis

Mrs Jeffreys Lewis (1857?-1926), English born American actress

(photo: Mora, New York, late 1870s)

'The touch of the etcher is often required to do what nature has failed to do for some of the reigning celebrities of the stage. The majority of actresses own up that they want "a handsome picture" about all else, and something they assert that they don't care whether it looks like them or not. Accordingly, by retouching, as many of the lines indicating ages as can possibly be taken out of the face without destroying its character and expression are removed.
'Other improvements are made, such as brightening the eyes, turning up the corners of the mouth to give a smiling expression and removing strong angular lines wherever they exist. Rouge is not allowed, because it makes the face black. A naturally ruddy person always takes very dark. When Modjeska was photographed recently in Philadelphia she brought with her four large trunks, two maids, her dog and her husband. Two of the trunks contained costumes, one cosmetics and toile arrangements, and the other, which was iron-bound and padlocked, her jewelry. She was photographed in fifteen different attitudes, as Juliet, Adrienne Lecouvreur and Marie Stuart. Nearly all the leading actresses have French maids, and often in preparing for a photograph as much time is spent on each character appeared in as at the theatre. Rows of lights for curling irons and to heat paste for the lips are lighted, and the whole place is turned into a laboratory. Although she is handsome to begin with, it takes Mojeska's maids over two hours to do up her hair as Juliet.
'When Lotta, who was also taken by the same artist, ran out of her room between the acts to be shown a proof of her photograph as Bob, she exclaimed, instantly: "Humph, is my foot as large as that?" Everybody knows what a pretty foot she has, but in a photograph the foot is always out of focus and takes larger than it is. Lotta's foot was promptly etched down to its proper size. In the gallery she is as playful and frolicsome as on the stage and sings and dances to get up expression while the photographer is preparing his plates. At the last sitting in this city she smoked her cigarette like a little man. Mrs. John Drew, who has been photographs as Mrs. Malaprop in The Rivals, is modest and retiring. She says her desire in public is to be a great comedienne and her desire in private is to be let alone. She takes a great interest in her protégé, Miss Stevens, and lives for her two grandchildren, Lionel and Ethel Barrymore, who are being educated by her for the stage. Another unassuming actress off the stage is Miss Jennie Winston, who has been photographed as the silly boy, the young student and in the devil's costume of Boccaccio, as well as in the new opera of Don Juanita, in which she was to have appeared but did not, owing to business complications with Harry Mahn. "Her pictures are more called for then those of any other woman we have. Old women and young girls speak of her in enraptured terms and there is a continual demand for them outside of the city," says a prominent photographer.
'Clara Louise Kellogg has a favorite black brocaded dress which she likes to be photographed in, and thinks more becoming to her than anything else. Her favorite characters are Mignon and Carmen. William Castle and Emma Abbott have been photographed as Paul and Virginia in this city, and also in an embrace as Romeo and Juliet, in the balcony scene. Their faces necessarily come very close together, and Miss Abbott jocularly inquired of the opera actor if he really thought he could photograph a kiss. Castle things getting photographed is a dreadful bore.

Maud Granger

Maud Granger (1851?-1928), American actress

(photo: Mora, New York, circa 1880)

'Joseph Jefferson, who is a painter as well as an actor, poses his gun and keg in Rip Van Winkle to suit himself and likes a "moved" picture, claiming that it is more artistic. He will never have the head-rest, and holds that a picture in which the subject keeps perfectly still cannot have any really artistic quality. [Ernesto] Rossi, when sitting as Edmund Kean, had his man servant with him, and required the servant to go out where he could not see him before the camera. He recalled the servant by blowing a silver whistle, which he carried for the purpose.
'A very large style of photograph called the panel and introducing etched scenes from plays in the background, have become the fashion, and ladies in private life are now having them made. They are the rage with actresses. Modjeska ordered two hundred last week. Over five hundred have been sold of Maude Granger in The Galley Slave, which introduces a gondola and moonlight effect, with Venice in the distance.

Joseph Jefferson

Maud Granger (1829-1905), American actor

(photo: Sarony, New York, 1869)

'Miss Granger has a passion for jewelry, especially finger-rings. In this picture she wears a diamond necklace, which was the only part of the picture she was particular about. Miss Jeffreys Lewis is photographed in a magnificent Worth dress, which she likes her friends to know was "fitted by Mr. Worth himself." It is a part of her costume in La Belle Russe. Lizzie Harold Conly, who is to be the leading vocalist in the Conly Opera troupe, has been taken in some elegant costumes she is to wear in the new opera composed for her by Audran. Miss Kate Forsyth, John McCollough's leading lady, takes a fine picture, especially as Virginia; but the photograph which she most favors herself is the one in which she is taken in her bathing dress. Some elegant pictures have also been taken of Miss Pauline and Miss Post as the King and Queen in the Queen's Lace Handkerchief. Helen Vincent, who is to star next season in the characters played by Mary Anderson, has had her photographs taken in advance.'
(from The Philadelphia Times, The Herald, Syracuse, New York, Sunday, 31 December 1882, p.6c)

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