FATHER AND DAUGHTER ACT : PHOTOGRAPH BY NAPOLEON SARONY

Unfortunately, I can’t figure it out. Is this a photograph of a father and daughter or are the pair performers of the New York stage? The man looks dapper in his suit, top hat, and cane. The young girl is adorable and well dressed. Be sure to note her shoes/boots. The gentleman is very photogenic and certainly has the appearance of an actor. The photographer of this “enigmatic” portrait is Napoleon Sarony, the well known and highly respected celebrity photographer. Sarony photographed a large number of the actors and actresses appearing in New York theater. He was an eccentric man but very talented.  A faded inscription on the reverse of the photo indicates that the photograph was taken in 1879. This cabinet card is in excellent condition (see scans).

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Published in: on January 14, 2020 at 12:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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PORTRAIT OF MAC BARNES PLAYING JESUS IN A THEATRICAL PRODUCTION (PHOTO BY MAX PLATZ)

This cabinet card photograph features actor Mac Barnes. He certainly looks like that he is in character to play Jesus in a theatrical production. His long hair, beard, and robe lead me to this hypothesis. An inscription below the image on the cabinet card states “Peace! Sincerely, Mac”. Before seeing this inscription, I thought my generation (Baby Boomers) were the first cohort to use the word “peace” when addressing each other. Mac Barnes (1863-1923) is listed in the IMDb. He was born in Bedford, Indiana, He was a vaudeville, stage, and screen actor. He was known for his roles in “The Food Gamblers” (1917), “The Haunted House” (1917), and  “Experience” (1921), His filmography includes 21 credits from 1909 through 1921. The photographer of this cabinet card photograph is Max Platz (1850-1894) who operated a studio in Chicago Illinois. Platz was born in Germany. His father was a tanner and he moved the family to Racine, Wisconsin when Platz was still a lad. He began his career at age 16 as a “positionist” in his brother-in-laws photographic gallery. His brother-in-law was Henry Rocher, a very talented and well respected photographer. He was Rocher’s primary assistant from 1867 through 1881. In 1881 Platz established his own photography business and encountered immediate success. He was a life long bachelor and clubman and was known for his wit, friendliness, and story-telling. He developed quite a following from members of the theater, German-American society, and the fashion world. His studio was decorated very elaborately. He employed antiques as props, much in the same way as Napoleon Sarony. It is written that his posing style resembled his friend, Benjamin Falk. Platz was an active member of the Chicago Photographic Association in 1893, he played an major role in the Department of Art for the Columbian Exposition. When Platz died in 1894, his studio and negatives went to his friend and fellow Rocher Student Joseph Gehrig and his pupil, James Samuel Windeatt. Wilson’s Photographic Magazine (1904) declares that a photographic session with Platz could be quirky. It seems that he had a habit of disappearing mid-sitting in order to find a quiet place to ponder the best poses he could utilize for his sitter. Platz earned the nickname “The Sarony of the West”. This cabinet card portrait is in very good condition. (see scans).   (SOLD)

PORTRAIT OF PRETTY THEATER ACTRESS: MILLIE COOK (PHOTOGRAPH BY NAPOLEON SARONY)

The pretty young woman seen in this cabinet card photograph is a theater actress named Millie Cook. She was a well-known New York variety entertainer and actress in the 1870’s. She played roles in such productions as “Blue Beard”,  “The Female Jack Sheppard” and in Niblo Garden’s ballet extravaganza “Leo and Lotos”. She was also a star at Tony Pastor’s and at the Union Square Theater. Tony Pastor is considered by many to be the “father of American Vaudeville”. Theater Magazine (1918) describes Miss Cook as “a good looker and a fair actress”. This cabinet card portrait was photographed by celebrity photographer, Napoleon Sarony. Note Millie Cook’s birds nest  hair-do.

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Published in: on May 8, 2018 at 12:02 pm  Comments (1)  
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PORTRAIT OF AMERICAN STAGE ACTRESS MAUDE WHITE OR POSSIBLY A PORTRAIT OF AMERICAN STAGE ACTRESS MAUD WHITE

 

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This is an unusual cabinet card portrait for two reasons. First, the pretty young woman who is the subject of this photograph is a New York city actress and certainly does not look the part. She is well dressed, but she is wearing conservative and “boring” attire. Overall, she looks more like the “woman next door” than a Broadway actress. She exudes a sweet and innocent disposition and she has a twinkle in her eyes. She doesn’t  give the appearance of a professional actress of that time. Where’s the histrionic flamboyance? Where’s the drama? Secondly, what’s wrong with the photographer, Napoleon Sarony. The fantastic celebrity photographer was not showing his usual bombastic flair when he posed and shot this photograph. Unlike many of his theatrical portraits, there is no fancy clothing or abundance of props in this portrait. The young lady in this image is named Maude White. Her name is written on the reverse of the photograph. However, there is a caveat worth mentioning. I encountered a problem while I was researching Maude White. I discovered that there was also an actress named Maud White who was performing during the same era. This became an issue because, despite the inscription on the back of the cabinet card, I could not be sure if the woman photographed was Maude White or Maud White. I attempted to find other photographs of both actresses but met no success. Due to the fogginess of the identification issue, I decided to research both Maude and Maud. The Internet Broadway Data Base reveals that Maude White appeared in one Broadway production, “The Ruling Power” (1904). However, Maud White made three appearances on Broadway (“Lost-24 Hours”(1895), “A Stranger in a Strange Land” (1899), and “There and Back” (1903). First, I will present some information gleaned from researching Maude. The New York Times (NYT) (1888) published an article about a soon to open play entitled “A Parisian Romance”. The star of the show was Mr Richard Mansfield and the supporting cast included Miss Maude White. The NYT (1888) later reviewed the play and made special mention of Maude. The review described her as “the danceuse (female ballet dancer) of the Opera” and reported that she played her role in a charming, pert, and clever manner. The NYT (1898) announced the soon to open comedy, “A Stranger in a Strange Land”, and that it would include both Mansfield and Maude. An article in the NYT (1900) stated that Maude would appear in Stuart Robson’s company that year. The NYT (1903) heralded the opening of a farcical comedy called “There and Back” and added that Maude would be a principal in the cast. An interesting story about Maude appeared in the NYT in 1905. The issue at hand was plagiarism. Maude had written a playlet called “Locked Out At Three AM” and she complained to the United States circuit court that the author of another play used some of her material. Maude had asked for an injunction and sued for damages. The NYT (1906) stated that Maude would be starring in the play “Nobody’s Fault”.  Now lets focus on Maud, rather than Maude.  In 1890, Maud was involved in some controversy and it was reported in the NYT. The title of the article was “Fritz Emmet Sobering Up”. Emmet was an established comedian who had a relationship with “John Barleycorn” that had produced many newspaper articles focussing on his drunken behavior. The article stated that there was  “a stormy sea” on the stage of the Hammerstein’s Harlem Opera House. Emmet had been drinking heavily for two weeks and creating much drama. His professional and personal life had become badly damaged. In his previous engagement in Philadelphia, Emmet had reached the point that he could no longer perform. The theater had to close the show, and fortunately for the theater, Emmet compensated them for their losses. Next stop was Harlem, but Emmet kept drinking excessively until the dramatic incident occurred on stage. At a Saturday night performance he “murdered his play”. While onstage he made many “Bacchanalian references” and exhibited other inappropriate words and actions.. Emmet’s adult son decided to put an end to his father’s out-of-control behavior. Just as the curtain went down on the last act of the play, Fritz’s son went on the stage where his father and Maud were standing. The son informed Maud that she would have to leave the theater company. Maud objected in a “vigorous manner” spurring the young Mr. Emmet to have her forcibly removed from the theater. Worse yet, he had her confined to a little storm house over the stage door. Basically, she was temporarily kidnapped. Maud cried and screamed “various better words” and even though Fritz tried to intervene, she was imprisoned until the police arrived. The police were called by the younger Mr Emmet and they promptly took Fritz to Manhattan Hospital where he was confined overnight. Maud was released and put in a carriage to go wherever she wanted to go. The story got worse for Fritz. Directly after this incident, his wife of 27 years, sued him for divorce on grounds of infidelity. They ultimately divorced and the settlement was costly for Fritz. Maud continued to perform and the NYT (1891) announced that Maud would be appearing in a play directed by Charles Frohman called “Mr. Wilkinson’s Widows”. That same year, she appeared in a Frohman production entitled “The Solicitor”. The NYT (1892) has an article reporting that Maud appeared in another Frohman production (“The Lost Paradise”). An 1895 NYT article states that maud was appearing with the Robert Hilliard Company in “Lost- 24 Hours” at the Hoyt Theater. The NYT (1897) has an article reporting her appearance in “The Wrong Mr Wright”. Maud received a complimentary review from the  NYT (1903) concerning her performance in the role of the “seductive Marie Antoinette” in the play “There and Back”.

PORTRAIT OF A LOVELY COUPLE BY CELEBRATED PHOTOGRAPHER OTTO SARONY

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This portrait of a lovely young couple was produced by the Otto Sarony studio in New York City. Otto Sarony (1850-1903) was the son of celebrated celebrity photographer Napoleon Sarony. Otto was quite talented in his own right and he also was a photographer of the rich and famous. It is impossible to know the extent of Otto’s work because he began directing photographic sessions that appeared under his fathers signature beginning in the late 1880’s. It has been reported that he was involved with every studio portrait from 1893 until his father’s death in 1896. Otto was the sole owner of the studio from 1896 until near the end of 1898. In 1898 he sold his business and all of his equipment and supplies to Jonathan Burrow. Also included in the sale was the trade-mark “Sarony”. In 1902 Otto Sarony sold the rights to his name (Otto Sarony) to photographic businessman Theodore C Marceau and took on the role of Marceau’s manager from the end of 1902 until late 1903. At the time Sarony was looking to fund his yachting activities. After Sarony’s death in 1903 the Otto Sarony Company remained as a brand until World War I.  Since the Otto Sarony Company was producing photographs long after Sarony’s death, one must keep in mind that many photographs with the Sarony label were not taken by Sarony. This fact makes it difficult for those who collect Sarony images.  On a side note, Otto Sarony was an athlete and a founding member of the New York Athletic Club. To view other photographs by Otto Sarony, click on the category “Photographer: Sarony (Otto).

 

 

 

Published in: on June 2, 2016 at 11:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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PORTRAIT OF A TEENAGE GIRL IN DEWSBURY, ENGLAND (CARTE DE VISITE)

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A teenage girl poses for her portrait at the J. Garratt studio in Dewsbury. Where is Dewsbury? There are a number of towns sharing that name but Garratt’s Dewsbury is in England. John Garratt had studios in Dewsbury and West Town. He is cited in the Journal of Photography (1877) and in the British Journal of Photography (1880 and 1881). Next to Garratt”s name is the phrase “From Saronys” and the phrase is printed above the word “Scarbro”. Is there a connection between Mr. Garratt and Napoleon Sarony?  At first I thought that Garratt might have worked for the celebrated photographer in New York City, Napoleon Sarony. Preliminary research provided me with an answer.  “Scarbro” is an abbreviation for Scarborough, a town in North Yorkshire, England. A well known and commercially successful photographer in Scarborough was a man named Oliver Sarony. His studio had 98 rooms and at one point he had 110 employees.  He was born in Quebec in 1820 and he came to England in 1843. He worked as a photographer in several English towns until he settled in Scarborough in 1857. He died in 1879. The business continued into the 20th century under the name Sarony & Co. The business was initially managed by Samuel Waind Fisher the husband of Oliver’s niece, Jennie. Interestingly Jennie was the daughter of Napoleon Sarony. To make a long story longer, it certainly appears that John Garratt was once employed by Oliver Sarony.