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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Musée et Bibliothèque de l’Opera
Reutlinger Studio (1850-1930)
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
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).
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.