Sunday, September 2, 2012

Berthe Bady, Actress (1866-?)

The Belgian-born actress Berthe Bady was perhaps best known for her perfomances as Hilda in the 1894/95 touring production of Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder and for her 1897 portrait painted by the famous French Post-Impressionist artist and Art Nouveau illustrator Henri de Toulouse Lautrec.

Henri Toulouse Lautrec
Portrait of Berthe Bady by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1897 
This painting was apparently the only portrait of an actress Lautrec ever painted in which he did not use the theater with which she was associated as a background, a fact which suggests to us that his interest in her as a model was more particularly one of respect for her as an individual, and fellow artist, and less in association with her environment.

Henry Bataille
From 1893 until 1912, Mme. Bady was married to French playwrite and poet, Henry Bataille, and starred in the production of his play Maman Colibri (Mother Hummingbird), a comedy in four acts, which opened at the Théâtre du Vaudeville in 1904, and was popular enough to be reprised in 1911 at Théâtre de l'Athénée, and again at the legendary Comédie-Française in 1920. Mme. Bady also performed with co-stars Albert T'Sterstevens, Sylvio De Pedrelli, in the incomplete 1918 French silent film Ecce Homo (aka Le Soleil Noir) written and directed by Abel Gance.

Théâtre de l'Athénée

We are very pleased to have in our shop this lovely image of Mme. Bady, photograph by Boyer & Bert, and thrilled to offer an original publicity card advertising her reprise performance of Maman Colibri at the Théâtre de l'Athénée in 1911.

AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE Publicity card for Berthe Bady  in  the play Maman  Colibri
It is cards of this sort (almost all of those we sell, really), which qualify under our own perhaps unrealistically romantic, but heartfelt, heading of "miniature time machines." Of course, any image of a past time and place that attracts us, tends to draw us in some fashion out of our present moment and into that of the image, but these wonderful cards, these were actually published in that moment; and unlike reprints of images, these cards were held in the hands of real people for whom Berthe Bady, Henry Bataille, Toulouse Lautrec, etc., were living, breathing parts of their world. For this reason, it always feels to us as if there is something extra special, almost magical, about these cards in their ability to transport us into that past time and place.

Additional Sources:
NOTE Multiple film adaptations of Maman Colibri have been made, including one released in 1929 by L'Alliance cinamatographique Eurpéenne and starring Maria Jacobini (available at Europa Film Treasures) and another released in 1937 by Badalo and distributed by Paris Cinéma Location, starring Huguette Duflos, Jean-Pierre Aumont and Jean Worms (see more on IMDB: 1929 and 1937). 

Direct from the Casino de Paris of the Roaring Twenties, and photographed by the renowned Paris Plaisirs, are Mesdemoiselles Zazani and Noel, flappers extraordinaire.

Mlle. Zazani and her megaphone
Mlle. Noel

We await them with bated breath. We hope you do, too.