L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, April 30, 2021

A fine day for a wedding - Cyril Ritchard and Madge Elliott, St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, 16 September 1935.


I posted this same photograph, all on its own, almost eight years. I had no idea who the couple was, and said as much. I suppose I was just being lazy, as their identity has been quite simple to ascertain this go 'round. The groom is Cyril Ritchard (1 December 1898, Sydney – 18 December 1977, Chicago), the Australian stage, screen, and television actor and director, best remembered today for his Tony-winning performance as Captain Hook in the original 1954 production of Peter Pan. And the bride, Madge Elliott (12 May 1896, London – 8 August 1955, New York City), British-born Australian dancer and actress. 

The arrival of the groom.
The arrival of the bride's attendants.
The arrival of the bride.

First introduced circa 1916 - he would have been eighteen, she twenty - with the suggestion that they team up as dancing partners, Elliott rejected the young man as... he couldn't dance. Two years later, though, that liability appears to have been rectified, and the pair went on tour together, performing in musical comedies. Even so, they soon parted, pursuing their individual careers. But by 1927, Ritchard having joined Elliott in London, they reformed their partnership, going on to great success. 

In 1932 they returned to Australia, becoming the preeminent musical comedy stars of the period. Nineteen years after their first meeting, they were married in a lavish ceremony; there was said to have been a crowd of five thousand outside the cathedral, kept in check by fifty police officers. They remained together, onstage and off, until her death twenty years later.

A hand-tinted portrait of the bride and her attendants.


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Her own way - a selection of photographs by and of Marie Høeg, circa 1893-1903

Marie Høeg (15 April 1866, Langesund – 22 February 1949, Oslo), Norwegian photographer and suffragist. Her published work was traditional in nature, while her private photography challenged the gender roles of the time and, since its rediscovery, has garnered international attention. Born in Langesund, southwest of the capital, she trained as a photographer in nearby Brevik, completing her apprenticeship in 1890. She then moved to Finland and, while working as a photographer in both Ekenäs and Hanko, developed a strong connection with the Finnish women's rights movement.

"Trick photography" in the 1890s. A composite image.

While in Finland, she began what was to be a lifelong relationship with Bolette Berg (1872-1944). Berg, five years Høeg's junior, was also a trained photographer. And in 1895 the couple returned to Norway and, settling in Horten, established the Berg & Høeg photography studio. They used the studio not only for their business, but also as a meeting place for other women interested in feminism and the cause of women's suffrage. 

Høeg and Berg at home, with their dog Tuss.
With Tuss. (Three images.)
Another composite photograph.

Høeg was an extrovert and a driving force in the community. She started groups such as Den selskbelige Diskusjonsforening (The Social Discussion Association) - still in existence today - Horten Ledd av Landskvinnestemmerettforeningen - the LKSF - (the Horten Branch of the National Association for Women's Right to Vote), Horten Kvinneråd tilknyttet Norske Kvinners Nasjonalråd (the Horten Women's Council linked to the National Norwegian Women's Council), and Horten Tuberkuloseforening (the Horten Tuberculosis Association). Berg was more retiring, but must have been a very active participant, especially behind the camera, in the photographs that have since become so well known.

With friends. The pose is meant to be provocative, as sitting on the ground like this, drinking and playing cards, would be considered "unladylike."
At least one male friend was willing to get in on the "gender bending." (Two images.)

In 1903 the couple moved to Oslo - at the time still known as Kristiania - and continued working as professional photographers, mostly producing scenic and portrait post cards. The two also founded the publishing company Berg og Høghs Kunstforlag A.S., publishing books such as the three-volume Norske Kvinder, a history of Norwegian women. Høgh - for some reason she changed the spelling of her name around this time - continued her suffrage work in the capital, in 1909 becoming local chairman of the LKSF, a post she held until suffrage was finally won in 1913.

Norwegian polar explorers Nansen and Amundsen were the cultural superstars of the moment, something which may have inspired this particular costume.

I've been unable to find any information about the later part of their lives, except that they spent their last days together on a farm. Berg passed away at the age of seventy-one or -two, and Høeg followed her five years later, aged eighty-three. Much later, in the 1980s, a box labelled "private" was discovered in a barn on the property. Inside were 440 glass negatives, created during the eight years Høeg and Berg lived in Horten. The images are now included in the collection of the Preus Museum - the Norwegian national photography museum - which is located in Horten.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Eighteen men and a jug full of flowers - a selection of paintings by Hans Memling


Hans Memling (also spelled Memlinc; circa 1430, Seligenstadt – 11 August 1494, Bruges), painter active in Flanders. He was born in the Middle Rhine region and probably spent his childhood in Mainz. He moved to the Netherlands and joined the Brussels workshop of Rogier van der Weyden. He was subsequently made a citizen of Bruges in 1465, where he became one its the leading artists, running a large workshop which produced religious works that often incorporated donor portraits of his wealthy patrons. He married Anna de Valkenaere sometime between 1470 and 1480, and they had three children. Memling's patrons included burghers, clergymen, and aristocrats, and he became very successful; in 1480 he was mentioned in the city's tax list as among its wealthiest citizens.