At the “Paris 1900” exhibit this past spring, I was not surprised to see theatrical posters featuring the famous actress Sarah Bernhardt, “The Divine Sarah.” She was a celebrated–and often notorious–figure of the Belle Epoque. She was thrown out of the Comedie-Francaise as a very young woman, for slapping another actress. But she lived to return in triumph, giving spectacular performances to rave reviews. The venerable Comedie-Francaise was not big enough for her talents, though. She founded her own theaters in several locations and traveled the world performing.
Acting was not big enough for her talents, either. Who knew that “The Divine Sarah” was an accomplished sculptor, when she wasn’t onstage playing Phaedra–or Hamlet? She created around 50 sculptures, starting when she was 25. She painted, too.
The Paris 1900 exhibit contained a sculpture that Sarah Bernhardt actually created for the 1900 Exposition held on the banks of the Seine. It’s titled “Une Algue,” which I think means “An Algae.” It certainly looks like one, lovingly rendered in bronze. Where did she find the time?
Join me next time for more explorations in the art and history of Europe!