Facts - Sarah Bernhardt, pictures of the past

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Advertisement for the theater
Sarah owned a theater in Paris. She commissioned the artist Alphonse Mucha to design posters for the plays (you can still order a copy). The designs were so beautiful that people took them off the walls with a razorblade to collect. To this day, copies of the famous art works can still be purchased. Sarah had photographers print her pictures in postcard format, featuring her role and the name of the play. They were told to destroy the photo negatives, but some of them did not. The original printed cards are still sold on Ebay.

Stage Jewelry

Alphonse  Mucha  made jewelry for Sarah. From  1899 on, René  Lalique made  jewelry for her. The famous designer was inspired by nature (flowers, snakes and insects). He was  criticized  because although his  jewelry  was beautiful, one  could not  wear it. Sarah proved that  the on occasion enormous jewels could be worn.

Art Nouveau clothing

About 1900 the tea gown  was invented. A not so tight  dress  with a body instead of a corset. It immediately became a sensual piece of  clothing. Most women just did not dare to wear it outside the house. Sarah wore them on stage. Fashion designers approached actresses to wear their latest ideas.


During  the  world fair  of 1883 in  Amsterdam  two French  inventors showed "the lipstick". Untill  that  day women had  to work with a  jar of colored beeswax. Sarah  was the  trendsetter and called her new lipstick 'stylo d'amour'.

Sarah as Doña Sol in the play Hernani of Victor Hugo in 1877
Sarah with a tiara

The Photo negatives:

These were made using the "Le Gray" procedure. Gustave Le Gray (1820-1882) is the inventor of the pre-oiled paper negative. The wax-coating was brushed on, the original brush strokes are still visible on the current prints. Photographers loved this method because the negatives were thinner and gave more pixels per square inch in the prints. Glass negatives are a direct derivative.

Example of a Mucha poster
The rose called Sarah Bernhardt
Paeonia lactiflora 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Star of Fame
Hollywood Walk Of Fame at 1751 Vine Street
Sarah Bernhardt post stamp
French Stamp 1945
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