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Sarah Bernhardt: The Art of High Drama

Overview

Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923) was an extraordinary performer, so much so that her name became synonymous with acting. Yet her importance extended beyond the world of theater—she was an icon of French nationalism, a target of both admiration and scorn, an artist and sculptor, and a trendsetting avatar of style. This fascinating book examines the many sides and talents of Bernhardt, from her beginnings at the Comédie Française through her international stardom. Wonderfully illustrated, the book features an ...

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Overview

Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923) was an extraordinary performer, so much so that her name became synonymous with acting. Yet her importance extended beyond the world of theater—she was an icon of French nationalism, a target of both admiration and scorn, an artist and sculptor, and a trendsetting avatar of style. This fascinating book examines the many sides and talents of Bernhardt, from her beginnings at the Comédie Française through her international stardom. Wonderfully illustrated, the book features an unprecedented collection of images relating to Bernhardt’s life, including paintings, posters, photographs, costumes, jewelry, stage designs, self-portraits, and sculptures.

Bernhardt orchestrated a brilliant sixty-year career as an actress and entrepreneur, becoming a revered patriotic figure in her native France and a beloved star in America, where she undertook nine successful tours. Along the way she sat for the most fashionable artists of her time, became the most photographed woman in the world, and attached her name to everything from hair curlers to liqueurs. This book brings the incredible Sarah Bernhardt to life for contemporary readers and highlights her historical significance and integral place in modern culture.

Featured illustrations include:

• Art Nouveau posters by Alphonse Mucha depicting Bernhardt in her most famous roles

• Designer costumes, tunics, tiaras, and jewelry

• A human skull, a gift from Victor Hugo

• Portraits of the actress by Jean Cocteau, Félix Nadar, Andy Warhol, and others

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Editorial Reviews

Jewish Exponent
"The volume is not only an abundantly illustrated art book, but a highly readable one as well. . . . It's a wealth of material, fascinating in and of itself, all of it splendidly reproduced."—Jewish Exponent
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300109191
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 12/2/2005
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Carol Ockman is professor in the Art Department of Williams College and author of Ingres’s Eroticized Bodies: Retracing the Serpentine Line, published by Yale University Press. Kenneth E. Silver is professor in the Fine Arts Department of New York University. Janis Bergman-Carton is professor of art history at Southern Methodist University and author of The Woman of Ideas in French Art, 1830–1848, published by Yale University Press. Karen Levitov is assistant curator and Suzanne Schwarz Zuber is project assistant, both at The Jewish Museum.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgments
Prologue : Sarah Bernhardt's handkerchief
Introduction : the mythic Sarah Bernhardt 1
Entr'acte : Bernhardt style 18
Was she magnificent? : Sarah Bernhardt's reach 23
Sarah Bernhardt and the theatrics of French nationalism : from Roland's daughter to Napoleon's son 75
"A vision of a stained glass Sarah" : Bernhardt and the decorative arts 99
The divine Sarah and the infernal Sally : Bernhardt in the words of her contemporaries 125
Entr'acte : Bernhardt and advertising 144
Bernhardt in the new world : a photographic essay 149
Chronology of Sarah Bernhardt's life 167
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