Sarah Bejeweled

My intention has been to post a simple little article on the Divine Sarah.

With Sarah Bernhardt  it AIN’T that easy.

Divine Sarah as the Empress of Byzantium Théodora by Sardou

I was a pissy little  homo- boy, my mother dismissed my histrionic fits by telling me to “stop acting like Sarah Bernhardt”.

I hadn’t a clue as to what she was referring to, I do now.

Sarah is eternally fascinating. As I cannot possibly tackle the Goddess in one little modest post, perhaps chapters would be best.

As I like shiny things, and Sarah liked shiny things lets begin with jewels.

We all know the quite fabulous Dragonfly corsage , so let us start with it.

Dragonfly corsage

Lalique 1897-1898

gold, enamel, chrysoprase stones, moonstones .

Museo Calouste Gulbenkian

I have read that this perverse little creature owned by Sarah’s friend, Calouste Gulbenkian, was a portrait sculpture of Bernhardt. I don’t see a resemblance, but it is of course  quite extraordinary.

Calouste lent this jaw dropper only once to dear Sarah, but we are still talking about it.

The man had fine taste, plus he was rather cute.

In addition to this bit of magnificence, he was a fine patron to Lalique. I must post more in a future date, but I cannot resist the siren call of this piece.

Serpents pectoral

ca. 1898-1899

gold and enamel

Museo Calouste Gulbenkian

Lalique wasn’t the only horse in Sarah’s bejeweled stable. Georges Fouquet and Alphonse Mucha produced this dazzling wonder.

Snake Bracelet

ca. 1899

gold, diamonds, opals , rubies, and enamel

Alphonse Mucha  Museum

Sakai City, Japan

As the opal is Sarah’s birthstone, the Snake Bracelet is particularly fitting.

It’s Orientalist mystique is by way of a larger snake that wraps round her wrist, Snake -1 linked to ring -Snake- 2 by a delicate series of chains. Flexibility is provided by discreet hinges from behind. a mechanical bit of genius that even I can appreciate.

In addition to designing Sarah’s jewels, Mucha of course famously designed posters for many of her  performances. this poster of 1898, depicts the divine one as Medea, in the production of  Médée performed at the Theatre de la Renaissance.

The Snake Bracelet quite visible, in addition to the bloody knife.

Georges Fouquet and Alphonse Mucha collaborated on other pieces, this pendant will drive you mad.


ca. 1900

Georges Fouquet and Alphonse Mucha

gold, enamel, mother of pearl, emerald, colored stone, gold paint

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Clearly dear Mucha relished being Sarah’s lap dog.Mucha went on to design more for Sarah, jewels and posters most specifically.

When Miss Bernhardt was performing La Princesse Lointaine at the Renaissance Theatre in 1895, Mucha designed this magnificent tiara for her.

Diadem for La Princesse Lointaine

ca. 1895

Musée et Bibliothèque de l’Opera


Reutlinger Studio (1850-1930)

ca. 1895

Harvard Theatre Collection

As Sarah had great control of her image, she was involved on every level. This jeweled collar for her role s Cleopatra reflect this attention to detail.

Pectoral for Cléopâtre

ca. 1840

metal, pearls, beads, sequins, gold thread

Bibliothèque Nationale de France

It’s quite clear dear Sarah enjoyed her glamour, her image, her presence.

Even her mirror bore her imprint, her motto Quand même (even so).

Standing Mirror

ca. 1875

Edouard Lièvre

Ariadante, Paris

ca. 1891

In closing I may never tire of Sarah, I thank my mother for the intro.

Always eager to throw in beefcake, we have the Divine and the Elegant Brute, the always hot George Sandow.

Good Night

12 Responses to “Sarah Bejeweled”

  1. A ‘Divine’ posting in more ways than one, as per usual. Thanks very much for a great and informative article that was dripping with gorgeous illustrations.

  2. I thank my grandmother for my rather tame introduction to her. And, i thank you for this colorful and educational post. Fabulous jewels and photoographs….I had never seen.

    Please, more on Sarah. She must have been quite a creature to inspire such artistic endeavors.

    • babylonbaroque Says:

      My mother who introduced me to Sarah meant it as a disparagement to compare my rants to Bernhardt. My mother was quite incorrect, I would enjoy any comparison to her greatness.
      She was a great muse , then and now, I find her incredibly enchanting.
      Thank you for checking in,

  3. I adore Sarah… I even paid homage to a photo of her that I love in one of my tintype photos.



    Which makes me think that I should organize a field trip to the wet plate photographer! Do you want to tag along?

    • babylonbaroque Says:

      I knew i liked you!
      You are amazing, the images beautiful.
      And YES, would love to tag along,

    • babylonbaroque Says:

      BTW, I am familiar with that image of the “crucified” Sarah, I like your image more.
      The cross disturbs me, and I’m a Catholic!
      Thanks for sharing, i want to do post on you, your work/art, your music, your images.
      Will be eager to discuss with you,

  4. […] I mentioned in my previous Sarah Bernhardt post , Calouste Gulbenkian (dragonfly pendant fame) was an important patron of Lalique’s […]

  5. Cool topic. I often need to read as much about this as I can.

    • babylonbaroque Says:

      Super, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I have another post you may find of interest, pop back soon
      Babylon Baroque

  6. Thanks so much for your research and the fabulous photos. I too was a young “Sarah Heartburn” to my parents, but only recently learned why she is still such a boldface name…

    • babylonbaroque Says:

      Love that! Unfortunately my parents were not nearly clever enough to call me Sarah Heartburn, would have tickled me beyond measure!

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