JENNIE WINSTON: INTERCONTINENTAL COMIC OPERA ACTRESS

gambier

The top cabinet card features early theatre actress, Jennie Winston. Unfortunately, biographical information concerning Ms. Winston appears to be sparse, and further research is necessary. An 1881 publication reveals that Jennie Winston was a native of Scotland and moved to Australia to join W. S. Lyster’s Italian Opera company. Her tenure with this company was seven years. She next went ot America under engagement to “Mr Maguire”, for whom she worked for one season’s duration. She then formed her own traveling opera company which journeyed to the western United States and British Columbia. The “Dramatic News” described Winston as “unsurpassed as a comic-opera artist by anyone in this country”. The photographer of this portrait was the studio belonging to Gilbert & Bacon. This studio was well known for their quality work as well as their work with local and visiting celebrities. To view other photographs by this studio, click on the category of “Photographer: Gilbert & Bacon”.

The second photograph, also by Gilbert & Bacon, captures a costumed Jennie Winston playing the mandolin. Note the backdrop  used in this photograph. The backdrop was an excellent choice for the photograph as it is compatible with Ms. Winston’s costume. It was also a good choice technically; the actress does realistically appear to be standing on a winding stone road.

The third photographic portrait features a sultry looking Jennie Winston, and is by celebrated photographer, Marc Gambier (1838-1900). The fourth cabinet card portrait was also photographed by Gambier. Miss Winston is in costume for an unnamed theatrical performance. She is acting in the portrait. Note her provocative and coy appearance. Gambier was born and educated in Paris, France. At the age of 19, he came to America for a very short stint of time. He returned to France and became a student of the great painter, Le Creton. Subsequently, he became a student of another great painter, Camino. He then returned to America and for five years, studied and worked under esteemed photographer, Sarony (view Sarony’s photographs by clicking on the category “Photographer: Sarony”). He then launched his own photography business in New York City. He divided his time between his first love, painting, and his business of taking and selling photographs. Gambier was known as a great historical painter. He was a veteran of the French Army and while in the service, he sketched and painted several important battles. Research reveals that Gambier was listed in the 1880 US census. He was forty-one years old and living in New York City with his family. He is listed as living with his wife Emilie (age 28), daughters Louise (age 10) and Emilie (age 7), and son M. L. (age 2). Also in the residence was a young woman (age 25) who worked as a servant. Gambier was known for the many theatrical photographs he produced as well as for selling postage stamp sized portrait photographs, that people attached to their letters and postcards.

PRETTY YOUNG WOMAN IN SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (PORTRAIT BY HENRY WALTER BARNETT)

A pretty young woman poses for her portrait at the Falk studio in Sydney, Australia. She is beautifully dressed, and has an attractive figure (give an assist to her corset). The photographer of this image was quite well known in his time. Henry Walter Barnett (1862-1934) was born in St. Kilda, Victoria. His parents were London-born Jews. Barnett began his career as an assistant to photographer Robert Stewart in 1875. When he was 21 years old he set up a studio in Hobart. He sold it to his partner in 1884 and went to London where he joined society photographers W. & D. Downey (click on cabinet card gallery category “Photographer: W & D Downey” to see some of their photographs). He returned to Australia and opened the Falk Studios in Sydney in 1887. He quickly became of the leading portrait photographers in the country. The Australian Dictionary of Biography states that “he was distinguished for his ability to bring out bone-structure and texture of the skin.” He was known as a perfectionist and he employed the most skilled craftsmen to work in his studio. He was said to have a flair for conducting business, paying little attention to cost. However, he asked “unheard-of-fees” for his services. Among his sitters were many celebrities, including Sarah Bernhardt and many other theatrical stars. In 1889 he married 20 year-old Hilda (Ella) Frances Clement Forbes”. The couple became known for their lavish entertaining. In 1896 Barnett became involved in early Australian Cinematography when he filmed scenes of the Melbourne Cup. In 1897 Barnett relocated to London where he operated a studio at Hyde Park Corner and later at Knightsbridge. His subjects included many royals and high society individuals. In 1920 Barnett sold his studio and retired in Southern France. He could not rest long and soon was involved in the collection and sale of contemporary French art.

PORTRAIT OF THE SHELTON FAMILY IN BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA

The Shelton family poses for their family portrait at the studio of Poul C. Poulsen in Brisbane, Australia. The photographer appears to have provided the family with props to use in this photograph. The bespectacled Mr Shelton reads to his daughter as she sits on his lap. A second daughter sits in a miniature chair and is holding an open magazine. The eldest daughter (on the far right side of the image) holds a fan that features the image of a pretty woman. Fans such as this, frequently had images of famous actresses of the era. Mrs Shelton has a handkerchief on her lap while another daughter is holding flowers. In the back center of the photograph is the Shelton’s young adult aged son who has his arms folded across his chest and a look of disinterest on his face. Poul Christensen Poulsen (1857-1925) was born in Denmark and arrived in Sydney in 1876. In 1882 he moved to Queensland and opened a photographic studio a few years later. He was later joined by brothers and sisters from Denmark. He opened branches of his studio in other Queensland towns. In 1898 he was appointed the Danish Consul at Brisbane. Over the years, his sons and grandsons entered the photography business. There is evidence on this particular cabinet card that dates it somewhere between 1894 and 1898. The studio located in the town of Gympie that is listed in the advertising on the front of this card, existed between 1894 and 1898.

PRETTY ACTRESS TRYING TO GET LUCKY IN PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA

A beautiful young actress poses for her portrait at The Sparks studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is wearing a horseshoe broach which probably was supposed to bring her good luck. This actress’s name was Marion Elmore. She was born in 1860 in a tent in Sandhurst, Australia. Her parent were English and they were in Australia because they were hoping to hit it big in the Gold Rush. Elmore began her acting career at age three. She played in Rip Van Winkle with touring American actor, Joseph Jefferson. In the 1870’s she was a member of Lydia Thompson’s famous burlesque troupe. “The Blondes” performed a risque mix of songs, dance and comedy. They also were very well known for showing a great deal of leg in their revealing costumes. She came to the United States in 1878 with the troupe but soon went off on her own as an actress and vaudeville performer. Her first starring role was in Chispa (1883). This play was poorly reviewed. The “Virtual Dime Museum” quotes the journal “Music and Drama” which wrote that the play “was dramatic rubbish, and that it does not fit Marion Elmore any better than her straw hat, which was continually falling off”. The New York Times (1882)  also lambasted the play. The critic had mixed feelings about Miss Elmore, but stressed her negatives. He blamed actress Maggie Miller for perpetuating a type of actress that he found abhorrent. These actresses were seen as stock actresses who rose to “money making dignity” by performing in troupes like Lydia Thompson’s Blondes. He described Elmore as a “vivacious exponent of the high art of leg burlesque”. The critic asserts that the craze surrounding Lydia Thompson, and other similar troupes, was one of the worst stupidities of the stage” and that he was pleased that the popularity of this type of entertainment had become “extinct”. On the positive side, the critic enjoyed Elmore’s sense of humor and her “brightness”.  One fortuitous outcome of her acting in Chispa was that she fell in love with, and in 1884, married her co star, Frank Losee. Another actress in Chispa was Lina Merville. Her portrait can be found in the Cabinet Card Gallery via the search box. As Elmore’s career continued, she acted in many plays in the New York area. She was active through the 1890’s and the early twentieth century. She died at age ninety in 1950. To view other photographs of actresses by Sparks, click on the category “Photographer: Sparks Photo Publishing Co.”.

WOMAN IN CHAINS (STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA)

This cabinet card features a woman in chains. The previous sentence, and the title of this blog entry, may be misleading because the woman isn’t exactly in chains; instead, she is wearing a chain necklace. Don’t you hate those sensational headlines that are aimed to manipulate you to watch a particular news show, or read a certain newspaper? Sorry! This lady’s name is “Emmie” according to a notation on the reverse of the cabinet card. She is thin, pretty and curly haired. The chain she is wearing has a pin attached to her collar and also has a charm or locket. Ironically, the charm resembles a  modern day pet identification tag. This image was photographed by Batchelder of Stockton, California. Perez Mann Batchelder (1818-1873) was a daguerreotypist, ambrotypist, and photographer active in a number of areas in California, including Sonora, Stockton, Vallecito, Murphy’s Camp, and Mokelumne Hill. He also operated studios in Melbourne, Australia (he followed the gold rush occurring down under) and Boston, Massachusetts. He worked in all of these locales over a short period of time. He clearly did not let moss grow under his feet. Batchelder with his brothers Nathaniel, Freeman, and Benjamin Pierce founded a daguerreian dynasty which in the 1850’s and 1860’s established dozens of galleries on both coasts of the United States and in Australia. Batchelder travelled incessantly and operated many enterprises simultaneously. He was born in Massachusetts and entered photography as a career in 1844. The book, “Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: A Biographical Dictionary” (2000) was the source of much of the information about Perez Batchelder.

EIGHT ATHLETIC LOOKING BLOKES IN SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

This cabinet card is a portrait of eight very athletic looking men. The men are dressed very similarly. Their pants appear to be identical and they each are wearing a wide white belt around their waists. The image presents a number of questions. Are these Aussie blokes wearing a uniform? Are they members of  a sports team? Are they wearing work clothing and all share the same occupation? Hopefully some Cabinet Card Gallery visitors will leave a comment that gives their opinion as to the answers to the aforementioned questions.  The photographer of this image is Herbst of Sydney, Australia. He is mentioned in a number of Sydney newspapers published in the 1890’s.  Advertisements for his studio appear in the newspapers, and there is mention of some of the notables he photographed.

Published in: on July 5, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments (1)  
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