The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Maud Branscombe

Maud Branscombe

A cabinet card portrait of the British actress Maud Branscombe (fl. 1870s – 1890s). As many contemporary commentators pointed out, Maud Branscombe was not the greatest actress ever to tread the boards. She was, however, considered one of the great beauties of her day and photographers on both sides of the Atlantic clamoured to take her portrait. She is seen here showing off her greatest assets, two eyes that the Pall Mall Gazette described as 'homes of silent prayer.'

Born Clara Amelia Branscombe in Exeter in 1854, her father was the 'Vicar Choral' of Exeter Cathedral. Her marital history appears to have been checkered. Her first marriage was in Canada in 1876; her second - to pianist and conductor Victor Champion - was in England in 1886. It's not clear whether or not there was a divorce in between. Her later years are shrouded in mystery. The place and year of her death are unknown. Her fame lives on, however. James Joyce immortalised her in 'Ulysses,' where she is described as an 'actress and professional beauty.'

Photographer unidentified, probably Mora or Sarony of New York.

Code: 126704
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