CARLOTTA BRIANZA: CELEBRATED ITALIAN BALLERINA (PORTRAIT BY FALK)

This cabinet card portrait features pretty celebrated Italian ballerina, Carlotta Brianza (1867-c.1933). Note that the jewelry that is hanging from her necklace is shaped like a horse. It is also worth mention that this photograph is somewhat risque for the era. Brianza was born in Milan, Italy and was the prima ballerina at La Scala before going to Russia. She created a sensation in Luigi Manzotti’s ballet “Excelsior” as the Spirit of Light. She went to Russia in 1887 after completing a US tour. She was acclaimed for her work in “Sleeping Beauty” and “Esmerelda”. She returned to the west in 1891 when she became the prima ballerina for the Vienna Opera. She died in Paris under suspicious circumstances that suggest she committed suicide. This portrait was produced by celebrity photographer Benjamin J. Falk of New York City. To view other photographs by Falk, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.

TWO RISQUE IMAGES OF A LOVELY BALLERINA PLAYING CUPID (TWO-SIDED CABINET CARD PHOTOGRAPH)

This cabinet card is quite unusual in that it has photographic images on both sides of the card. A very pretty ballet dancer is from the Alhambra Ballet production of Cupid is pictured in each image. In one photograph her legs are crossed while in the second photograph her legs are open and her undergarment is visible through her transparent tutu. The cabinet card is risque for it’s era. The Alhambra was a theatre in London, England. It was opened in 1854 as “The Royal Panopticon”. A circus ring was added and it was reopened in 1858 as the Alhambra. The theatre stage hosted music hall acts, aerial acts, ballet, light opera, and other events. The theatre was closed and demolished in 1936. This cabinet card features a dancer from the ballet, Cupid which opened at the Alhambra on 5/24/1886. The principal dancer in this production was Emma Bessone, and research reveals that the ballerina in this image is likely Emma Bessone. She was an Italian dancer who trained at La Scala and became prima ballerina for both the Maryinsky and Bolshoi companies in Russia. The photographer of this cabinet card was Samuel A. Walker whose studio was located in London.