The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography



A Creole born on the Île Bourbon (modern day La Réunion, east of Madagascar), Finette first demonstrated her version of the can-can to London audiences at the Lyceum Theatre on 26 December 1867, in a pantomime written by W.S. Gilbert. A week later, according to an advertisement in the Times, she was appearing at the same venue with Mlle. Esther Austin and Mlle. Henriette in 'Milano's Grand Parisian Carnival Galop' and in the spring of 1868 she was appearing nightly at the Alhambra Theatre, on the same bill as Jules Léotard, the trapeze artist.

'Finette smokes, Finette gets drunk, her language is vulgar, she beats her maid from morning to night', sniped her arch-rival Rigolboche. 'They say Finette writes charming letters. She doesn't even know how to write her own name and only reads magazines… she gets her piano teacher to do her writing for her'.

Photographed in 1867 at the London branch of the great French photographer Disdéri.


Code: 123539
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