The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Sarah Bernhardt

Sarah Bernhardt

A cabinet card portrait of the French actress Sarah Bernhardt, often referred to as 'The Divine Sarah'.

She is depicted here as the Empress of Byzantium in Victorien Sardou's Théodora, written especially for her, and in which she starred in 1884. The play was renowned as much for its Byzantine splendour as for its action. The costumes worn by the palace guards (observed a dazzled journalist) cost over 300 francs apiece. In the scene set in the Imperial box at the Hippodrome, Sarah wore a dress of sky-blue satin with a train four yards long, covered with embroidered peacocks with ruby eyes and feathers of emeralds and sapphires.

Photographed by William and Daniel Downey of London and Newcastle.

Code: 124430
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