She went on to paint portraits of other contemporary notables, and also painted panels and murals which adorned the Paris Town Hall, the Paris Opera House, numerous theatres including the "Theatre Sarah Bernhardt", and the "Palace of the Colonial Governor" at Dakar, Senegal. (Picture: Bernhardt around 1878, photograph by Paul Nadar (crop))
She was a regular exhibitor at the Paris Salon, where she received an honorable mention for her panels in 1881. Abbéma was also among the female artists whose works were exhibited in the Women's Building at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. A bust Sarah Bernhardt sculpted of Abbéma was also exhibited at the exposition.
Louise Abbéma in her studio, 1914
Louise Abbéma was a French painter, sculptor, and designer of the Belle Époque. She first received recognition for her work at age 23 when she painted a portrait of Sarah Bernhardt, her lifelong friend and possibly her lover. In 1990, a painting by Abbéma, depicting the two on a boat ride on the lake in the bois de Boulogne, was donated to the Comédie-Française. The accompanying letter stated that the painting was "Painted by Louise Abbéma on the anniversary of their love affair."
Sarah Bernhart, (1875)
"A Game of Croquet," (1872)
Portrait de Jeanne Samary, 1879
Matin d'avril, Place de la Concorde, Paris (1894)
Au piano, (ca. 1880)
Portrait of Madame B. (ca. 1900?)
Elegant Lady, Place de la Concorde
A Faithful Companion
Portrait of Madam Duvelleroy
An Afternoon Song, 1885
Elegant Woman on a Winter’s Walk
Le déjeuner dans la serre, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Pau
Un gentilhomme Parisien
Abbéma specialized in oil portraits and watercolors, and many of her works showed the influence from Chinese and Japanese painters, as well as contemporary masters such as Édouard Manet. She frequently depicted flowers in her works. Among her best known works are The Seasons, April Morning, Place de la Concorde, Among the Flowers, Winter, and portraits of actress Jeanne Samary, Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil, Ferdinand de Lesseps, and Charles Garnier.
Abbéma was also an accomplished printmaker, sculptor, and designer, as well as a writer who made regular contributions to the journals Gazette des Beaux-Arts and L'Art.
Among the many honors conferred upon Abbéma was nomination as "Official Painter of the Third Republic." She was also awarded a bronze medal at the 1900 Exposition Universelle and in 1906 made a Chevalier of the Order of the Légion d'honneur.
Abbéma died in Paris in 1927. At the end of the 20th century, as contributions by women to the arts in past centuries received more critical and historical attention, her works have been enjoying a renewed popularity.
Sarah Bernhardt (c. 22/23 October 1844 – 26 March 1923) was a French stage and early film actress, and was referred to as "the most famous actress the world has ever known." Bernhardt made her fame on the stages of France in the 1870s, at the beginning of the Belle Epoque period, and was soon in demand in Europe and the Americas. She developed a reputation as a serious dramatic actress, earning the nickname "The Divine Sarah." (Picture: Louise Abbéma, self-portrait (ca. 1895))
Bernhardt was born in Paris as Rosine Bernardt, the daughter of Julie Bernardt (1821, Amsterdam – 1876, Paris) and an unknown father. Julie was one of six children of an itinerant Jewish spectacle merchant, "vision specialist" and petty criminal, Moritz Baruch Bernardt, and Sara Hirsch (later known as Janetta Hartog; c. 1797–1829). Five weeks after his first wife's death in 1829, Julie's father married Sara Kinsbergen (1809–1878). He had abandoned his five daughters and one son with their stepmother by 1835. Julie, together with her younger sister Rosine, left for Paris, where she made a living as a courtesan and was known by the name "Youle." Julie had five daughters, including a twin who died in infancy in 1843.
Sarah Bernhardt changed her first name and added an "h" to her surname. Her birth records were lost in a fire in 1871. To prove French citizenship—necessary for Légion d'honneur eligibility—she created false birth records, in which she was the daughter of "Judith van Hard" and "Édouard Bernardt" from Le Havre, in later stories either a law student, accountant, naval cadet or naval officer.
©Louise Abbéma (1853-1927). Sarah Bernhardt (©4)
When Sarah was young her mother sent her to Grandchamp, an Augustine convent school near Versailles. In 1860 she began attending the Conservatoire de Musique at Déclamation in Paris and eventually became a student at the Comédie Française where she would have her acting debut (11 August 1862) in the title role of Racine's Iphigénie to lackluster reviews. Her time there was short lived; she was asked to resign after slapping another actress across the face for shoving her younger sister during a birthday celebration for Molière.
Much of the uncertainty about Bernhardt's life arises because of her tendency to exaggerate and distort. Alexandre Dumas, fils, described her as a notorious liar.
Bernhardt had an affair with a Belgian nobleman, Charles-Joseph Eugène Henri Georges Lamoral de Ligne (1837–1914), son of Eugène, 8th Prince of Ligne, with whom she had her only child, Maurice Bernhardt (1864–1928). Maurice did not become an actor but worked for most of his life as a manager and agent for various theaters and performers, frequently managing his mother's career in her later years, but rarely with great success. Maurice and his family were usually financially dependent, in full or in part, on his mother until her death. Maurice married a Polish princess, Maria Jablonowska (see Jablonowski), with whom he had two daughters, Simone (who married Edgar Gross, son of a wealthy Philadelphia soap manufacturer) and Lysiana (who married the playwright Louis Verneuil ).
Bernhardt's close friends included several artists, most notably Gustave Doré and Georges Clairin, and actors Mounet-Sully and Lou Tellegen, as well as the famous French author Victor Hugo. Alphonse Mucha based several of his iconic Art Nouveau works on her. Her friendship with Louise Abbéma (1853–1927), a French impressionist painter, some nine years her junior, was so close and passionate that the two women were rumored to be lovers. In 1990, a painting by Abbéma, depicting the two on a boat ride on the lake in the bois de Boulogne, was donated to the Comédie-Française. The accompanying letter stated that the painting was "Peint par Louise Abbéma, le jour anniversaire de leur liaison amoureuse" (loosely translated: "Painted by Louise Abbéma on the anniversary of their love affair.")
Bernhardt also expressed strong interest in inventor Nikola Tesla, only to be dismissed as a distraction to his work.
She later married Greek-born actor Aristides Damala (known in France by the stage name Jacques Damala) in London in 1882, but the marriage, which legally endured until Damala's death in 1889 at age 34, quickly collapsed, largely due to Damala's dependence on morphine. During the later years of this marriage, Bernhardt was said to have been involved in an affair with the future King Edward VII while he was still the Prince of Wales.
Bernhardt once stated, "Me pray? Never! I'm an atheist." However, she had been baptised a Roman Catholic, and accepted the last rites shortly before her death.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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