A DUSKY BEAUTY : MISS AIDA OVERTON WALKER

The subject of this vintage real photo postcard is Miss Aida Overton Walker. The caption above her name refers to her as “A Dusky Beauty”. Seems like a racist title to me. I don’t recall ever seeing its equivalent, “A Pasty Beauty”, on a portrait of a white female performer. Aida Overton Walker (1880-1914) was known as “The Queen of the Cakewalk”. She was African-American and an American vaudeville performer, singer, actress, and choreographer. She has been called the most famous African American female performer of the early twentieth century. She was married in 1899 to vaudeville performer, George Walker. Aida and her husband performed with the highly successful Bert Williams. They were the major black vaudeville and musical comedy act of the era. She was also a solo dancer and choreographer for a number of other vaudeville shows. Aida was well known for her 1912 performance of the ”’salome” dance. Aida was born in Richmond, Virginia and moved to New York City when she was young. She was educated there and received a great deal of musical training. When she was fifteen years old she joined the “Octoroons”, a black touring group. In 1900 she gained national notice with her performance of  “Miss Hannah from Savannah” in the play, “Sons of Ham”.  The song became a major hit. Overton Walker had significant theatrical success with her performances in Dahomey (1902), Abyssinia (1906), and Bandana Land (1908). Overall, Aida was praised by critics and fellow performers. She was financially successful. In 1908 she retired to care for her ill husband. In 1910 she returned to the stage as a solo act. In 1911, her husband died. By 1912, she was on tour again. That same year, she performed on Broadway as Salome. In 1914, Walker died suddenly from kidney failure. Two years before her death, she was performing in white variety theaters. She and Bert Williams were the only Black performers “permitted” to do so. At that time, African Americans were expected to confine themselves to “lower” entertainment such as comedy and ragtime. “High” art, like dramatic theater and classical dance were reserved for whites. Aida helped break that racist tradition. During her career, Aida addressed the issue of racial relations. She stated in an article in “The Colored American Magazine (1905), her view that that the performing arts could have a beneficial effect on race relations. Walker asserted “I venture to think and dare to state that our profession does more toward the alleviation of color prejudice than any other profession among colored people.” She also worked to improve working conditions, and to expand roles for black women on the stage. During the period Walker was performing, female actresses, especially black actresses, were seen as “immoral and oversexed”. Aida wrote “a woman does not lose her dignity…when she enters stage life”. Walker also worked to develop the talents of younger black performers within the framework of refinement and elegance. In 1908, she began organizing benefits to assist such causes as the Industrial Home for Colored Working Girls. This vintage postcard was published by Raphael Tuck, of Paris, France. The photographer of Miss Walker was Cavendish Morton (1874-1939). The National Portrait Gallery possesses 104 of Morton’s portraits. Morton had several careers including electrical engineering, architecture, acting, illustrating, and in the 1890’s he took up photography. He is known for his theatrical photo portraits. His son was a well known watercolor artist. This postcard was postmarked in 1908, The postcard is in good condition. See the youtube video below. It is a tribute to Aida Overton Walker. 

 

Buy this original Vintage Real Photo Postcard (includes shipping within the US) #2841

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$38.50

Buy this original Vintage Real Photo Postcard (includes International shipping outside the US) #2841

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MADIA BORELLI: BEAUTIFUL FRENCH DANCER (PORTRAIT BY REUTLINGER)

“Madia! I’ve just met a girl named Madia. And suddenly that name. Will never be the same.” With apologies to Leonard Bernstein, I just couldn’t resist. This vintage real photo postcard features dancer Madia Borelli. She was a Parisian dancer active in the early twentieth century. The photographer of this portrait of Miss Borelli was the famed photographer Leopold Reutlinger of Paris, France. The postcard was published by S.I.P., which is the Societe Industrielle de Photograpie of Rueil, France. The postcard is part of a series (no. 1239). This postcard has excellent clarity and is in very good condition (see scans).

Buy this original Real Photo Postcard (includes shipping within the US) #2497

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$25.50

Buy this original Real Photo Postcard (includes International shipping outside the US) #2497

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$33.50

ADORABLE TEENAGE GIRL DOING A SPLIT- GYMNAST OR DANCER (VINTAGE RPPC)

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This vintage real photo postcard features a portrait of a teenage girl doing a split. She appears to be a gymnast or a dancer. A notation on the reverse of the  postcard identifies the girl as “Clara”. The postcard was published on Artura paper that was produced between 1908 and 1924.

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Published in: on September 30, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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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”.

PRETTY DANCER DOES A SPLIT (UNUSUAL RISQUE POSE)

This photograph captures an attractive dancer in an unusual pose. She is doing a split, which is a very risque pose for this time era. The woman is likely a professional dancer but it is possible that she is just a very athletic, and provocative young lady. There is no identification available of the young woman or of the photographer and studio. Perhaps a visitor to the Cabinet Card Gallery will recognize the dancer and leave a comment concerning her identity.

Published in: on December 20, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  
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PRETTY DANCER PHOTOGRAPHED BY SARONY IN NEW YORK

This cabinet card is a photograph of a young dancer/actress photographed by the famous celebrity photographer, Sarony of New York. She seems to be in a dancers pose and costume. The reverse of the card has a handwritten identification of the subject. The name listed is Sara Belle; and preliminary research has revealed nothing about her. In fact, the existence of an actress/dancer by that name has not yet been confirmed. Interestingly, Napoleon Sarony’s daughter was named Belle. In regard to the date of this photograph, Sarony opened his Broadway studio in 1866 and moved to 37 Union Square in New York City in 1871.  Therefore this photograph was taken between 1866 and 1871. Perhaps a visitor to this site can shed some light on the identity of the woman in this photograph. Additional images by Sarony can be seen by clicking on the Cabinet Card Gallery’s category of “Photographer: Sarony”.

Published in: on March 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm  Comments (1)  
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