Luminous-Lint - for collectors and connoisseurs of fine photography
HOME  BACK>>> Subscriptions <<< | Testimonials | Login | FREE NEWSLETTER

HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > 19th Century Opera Stars

Title • Introduction • First image • Lightbox • Checklist • Resources • PhV 


19th Century Opera Stars 

Opera had evolved from its early forms of Greek musical drama, recitative story and complex arias into grand productions by the 19th century. Considered an Italian art form during the 18th century even giants like Handel and Mozart defied their native tongues and wrote in Italian. It was during the 19th century when the audiences began to experience opera in their native languages and the productions became elaborate and expensive. Guiseppe Verdi in Italy and Richard Wagner in Germany composed lengthy intricate music. Their operas were based on popular literature, and staged with grand scenery and costume. Mature trained singers with majestic voices, huge choruses and orchestras filled opera houses in Europe and America. Opera was no longer serving only the elite audience, but vast numbers of people from all economic levels were attracted to a growing number of newly built and renovated opera houses. Singers, composers, directors, and musicians were celebrated in the newspapers and traveling companies now performed a weekly menu of operas on the stages at Hamburg, Vienna, St. Petersburg, Milan, Paris, London, New York, and most other major cities. Royalty fell in love with opera. Queen Victoria often hosted her favorite singers, and Bavarian king, Ludwig II‘s support for Richard Wagner all but insured his music would become the favorite of German speaking people everywhere.
Portrait studio owners competed to gain the visits of royals, celebrities, and the elite of society. To gain famous patronage was all important for marketing their businesses to the larger general public. Carte de visite and cabinet card served the autograph seeker audience by mail and they were also available as souvenirs sold at the opera houses. Photographers through arrangement with the celebrity sitter would seek copyright for their images, and produce them in large quantity suited to meet public demand. These same photographs were also published as postcards, and served the print media to greatly bolster the revenues of each studio. The singers were also skilled actors and often demonstrated their dramatic abilities in front of the camera which added to the charm of the parlor collectable.
The majority of opera portraits were made at the photographers studio. Occasional group portraits of costumed actors showing dramatic gesture make one suspect that camera and lights were taken to the opera stage. Electrical illuminated portraiture was in its infancy, exposure time, focal length, and the stability of photographic emulsions all made it difficult to make live production photographs. In American theatrical history Benjamin Falk is most noted for taking the first "in theatre production" photographs. Bolstering the normal stage lighting with additional electrical fixtures, he captured the first full-cast stage picture, an Act II tableaux from ‘The Russian Honeymoon‘ at the Madison Square Theater on May 1, 1883.
In this exhibition the viewer is introduced to a few of the photographers who attracted important opera personalities to their studios. Disderi and Reutlinger in Paris, Southwell Brothers in London, Bieber in Hamburg and Berlin, Varischi & Artico in Milan, Sarony and Falk in New York, and other well-known studios that were frequented by the opera performers. Some studios provided costume cabinets, props, and appropriate painted backdrops for specific operas, and several maintained lavishly furnished private areas and dressing rooms for their celebrity guests. There are many more 19th century photographers who might have been included as well as other singers and composers, but that offers opportunity for the exhibit to grow with the interest and input of viewers at Luminous-Lint.
T. Max Hochstetler (June 2007)
CountryPhotographers and studios
André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri
Alphonse J. Liebert
Pierre Petit
Reutinger (Charles Reutlinger, Leopold-Emile Reutlinger)
GermanyE. Bieber Atelier (Emilie Bieber, Leonard Berlin-Bieber, August "Emil" Julius Bieber)
Rudolf Herrmann (Hermann Atelier)
Wilhelm Höffert
J.C. Schaarwächter
Georg Stüffler
ItalyI. Calzolari
Guigoni & Bossi
Varischi & Artico (Auturo Varischi & Giovanni Artico)
Great BritainHerbert Rose Barraud
Camille Silvy
Southwell Bothers (William Henry Southwell, Frederick Southwell, Edwin Southwell)
RussiaMiron Ambramovich Sherling
USABenjamin J. Falk
Jose Mora
H. Rocher
Sarony (Napoleon Sarony, Otto Sarony)

France: André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri (1819–1889/90)
André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri, former merchant, actor, and daguerreotypist, patented his invention, the carte-de-visite photograph, in 1854. The cartes were primarily portraits, about the size of a conventional calling card and soon just as popular. Disdéri established his photographic practice with the manufacture of these tiny photographs; he divided a single glass plate negative to make ten different exposures and then printed them simultaneously.
In May 1859 he had an extraordinarily lucky break, when Napoleon stopped his troops outside his studio and went in to have his photograph taken. Disdéri became instantly famous, and people flocked to his studio, making him a very rich man. By 1862 he had expanded his operation to include a second studio in Paris, devoted entirely to equestrian portraits. Studios in London followed, and Disdéri, ever the showman and enterprising businessman, developed numerous photographic gimmicks to keep business afloat.
At the height of his fame he was said to be one of the richest photographers in Europe. After 1871 changes in the political and social climate contributed to the demise of his studio business. Following several bankruptcies, he moved to Nice in 1877 and ran a series of photography studios there. He returned to Paris in the late 1880s and died in an institution, virtually penniless.
France: Charles Reutlinger (1816–1880)
German-born photographer, Charles Reutlinger, opened his Paris atelier in 1850. The beginning of the famous Reutlinger Photographe that would remain in operation until 1937. Charles belonged to an elite group of photographers who had studios on the boulevards ala mode and attracted many of the best known artists, scientists, musicians, actors, politicians and writers of his time.
His photographs were featured in the most prestigious newspapers and magazines. He joined The Society of French Photographers in 1862, which was organized to elevate photography to the recognized level of sculpture and painting. His chief competitors were Eugene Disderi, Gustave Gray, and the atelier of Bertsch & Arnaud.
His large group of carte de visite photographs depicting the elite of France were produced as set collectibles for the 1867 Exposition Universelle. Shortly before his death in April, 1880, Charles turned his business located at 21 Boulevard Montmarte over to his brother, Emile.
Emile Reutlinger’s studio years were short as he turned the management of the business to his eldest son, Leopold in 1890. He is best known for his publication, "Le Panorama, bathing beauties" of 1896, and other early risqué photographs.
France: Leopold-Emile Reutlinger (1863–1937)
Leopold Reutlinger inherited a well-established clientele and elaborate studio and he adapted quickly to the wealthy socialites of Paris. His business thrived and by 1900 his business had far exceeded his uncles accomplishments. Leopold produced a number of images of performers, showgirls, and theatre stars. His cabinet cards are distinguished by name at top margin, REUTLINGER, and script signature at the bottom of the card. His photographs often appeared in publications and he expanded the business to include postcards. By age 30, Leopold was wealthy and highly regarded in the City of Paris. His creativity is shown by postcard images which merge portraits with fantasy art nouveau windows and borders. Many of these postcard images were hand-colored and made a huge profit for the Reutlinger Studio.
Leopold was forced into retirement in 1930 after he was blinded in one eye by a champagne cork. He died in Paris at the age of 74 on 16 March, 1937.
France: Pierre Petit (1831–1909)
Pierre Petit was a French photographer born at Aups in the south of France. He learned the art of daguerreotype in 1849 and later became assistant to Disderi who operated a studio with seventy-seven employees. In 1858, Petit opened a photography studio with Antoine Rene Trinquard. The partner-ship lasted until 1862 at 31 Place Cadet using the name La Photographie des Deux Mondes. Petit continued to operate at this address for the remainder of his career.
In 1860, he began a carte de visite series of 1,500 celebrities of the day. He often visited the homes of his clients to take their portraits. He opened a branche at Baden, and had joint venture at Marseilles with Emile Cazalis in 1862. He became the recognized photographer of French Episcopacy and religious orders in 1862 and by 1864 he had achieved 25,000 ecclesiastical portraits in his archive.
Pierre Petit held the monopoly for photography at the Exposition Universelle of 1867. In 1871 he photographed the siege and burning of Paris. He provided photographic documentation of the siege and burning of Paris in 1871, construction of the Statue of Liberty in 1866, and construction of the Eiffel Tower between 1887-1888.
In 1873 he collaborated with Paris-Theatre producing many portraits of actors and singers. He was one of the earliest to use electric lighting to enhance the portrait sitter.
He handed over the business to his son in 1908.
France: Alphonse J. Liebert
Alphonse J. Liebert does not appear in Paris until 1863 after having operated a photographic studio in California during the gold-rush era. He spent the majority of his career photographing the environs of Paris, and published an album of one hundred photographs titled, "Les Ruines de Paris et ses Environs 1870-71" depicting the destruction of building and monuments from the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune. In 1870, he produced a portfolio of photographs offering a unique documentation of the World Exposition with pictures of the installations, buildings and streets, interiors and aerial views. This publication was obviously aimed at the visitor to the World Exposition.
The backside of his carte de visite portraits read:
81, Rue S’ Lazare. 81
It is not known how long he operated a portrait studio from this location.
Germany: E. Bieber Atelier – Hamburg/w. Berlin (1852-1933)
Emilie Bieber (1810-1884) – Hamburg
Leonard Berlin-Bieber (1841-1931) – Hamburg/w. Berlin
August "Emil" Julius Bieber (1878-1963) - Hamburg
In 1852, Ms. Emilie Bieber (1810 - 1884) opened a daguerreotype atelier in Hamburg. The business nearly failed and was almost sold, but with the advise of friends the atelier was relocated to 26 Gross Backerstrasse an area of the city known for its bakeries and it thrived. Prince Friedrich of Prussia honored the Bieber Portrait Atelier by selecting it as the official "Hofphotograph" to serve the royal family. The E. Bieber Atelier had already adapted to the collodian wet-plate processes and specialized in hand-coloring.
In 1872, Emilie Bieber introduced her nephew, Professor Leonard Berlin (1841-1931), to the business and he became her successor. Under the name Berlin-Bieber he became a yard photographer for several of the kings palaces; making portraits of the royal household, princes and dukes. By 1855, Bieber photography studio gained world fame. Kaiser Wilhelm II ‘s household utilized the studio for their personal portraits.
Due to the economic impact caused by the cholera epidemic at Hamburg in 1892, Berlin-Bieber relocated his family and business to Berlin in 1892. The Berlin-Bieber Portrait Atelier located at Leipzigerstrasse 124-128 operated until the end of World War I. The atelier was sold to a group of Berlin citizens following World War I. His son, August "Emil" Julius Bieber (1878-1963) became a partner in the business, and was appointed the boss of the Hamburg Atelier in 1902. The combined Hamburg and Berlin ateliers employed more than forty workers in 1902.
Emil Bieber‘s Hamburg Portrait Atelier remained prominent, attracting the famous and not so famous to its two locations, Neuer Jungfernstieg 20 and Alter Jungfernstieg 8-9.The Hamburg business celebrated a 75th anniversary in 1927 concentrating upon portrait and advertising photography.
In 1933, Emil Bieber Family emigrated to Capetown, South Africa and opened a portrait studio there. The Bieber Family was Jewish and the rise of Nazism forced many families to flee Germany. Emil Bieber died in 1963, bringing an end to the lineage of family photographers.
Germany: Rudolf Herrmann (Herrmann Atelier)
Rudolf Herrmann operated an atelier at Wintergartenstrasse 4, parterre (street level), Leipzig, throughout the 1880s and 1890s. Performers from the Oper Leipzig came to his portrait studio during the period that Max Staegemann was opera director (1882-1905). Staegemann had engaged Gustav Mahler as operatic conductor from 1886 until 1888 for Oper Leipzig. The Herrmann atelier production was almost totally devoted to the making of cabinet cards and there are a number of stage personalities who posed in costume before his camera.
Germany: Wilhelm Höffert
Dresden, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Leipzig, Hannover, Bonn, Breslau, Magdeburg and Dusseldorf
German photographer, Wilhelm Höffert displayed the family crests of both Sachsen and Prussian kings on his cabinet cards and advertised studios in ten central and northern cities of the German Empire between 1880 and 1907. W. Höffert Studios are documented at addresses in Dresden, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Leipzig, Hannover, Bonn, Breslau, Magdeburg, and Dusseldorf. Adding to this list of business enterprises his studio at Dresden dispatched photographers to the annual "Bayreuther Buhnenfestpiel" (Bayreuth Dramatic Festivals) from 1889 until 1903.
The Höffert Studios welcomed the thespians and singers who regularly performed at the city theatres, opera houses, and festivals and it is likely that his studios maintained costume cabinets for his famous clients.
There is scarce personal information discovered about Wilhelm Höffert but his main studio was located in Dresden at See Strasse 10 in the central shopping district. In the memoirs of photographer, Nicola Percheid, he mentions that he was employed at the W. Höffert Studio - Dresden for two and one-half years (1889-91) and in 1889 made the photographs of the Bayreuth Festival. Percheid later opened a studio at Gorlitz and developed "soft lens" and early color photographs. Also noted photographer, Hugo Erfurth, worked at the Höffert Studio - Dresden in 1895.
In 1906-7 the cabinet card photographs of the W. Höffert Studio in Leipzig have the names of new owners, E & M Foerstner at address Barfussgasse 15. An earlier address for the studio was Schlossgasse 1 - Petersbrueche, Leipzig. Why the new owners chose to keep the name of W. Höffert Studio is unknown.
Germany: J.C. Schaarwächter
Little personal information is known about the photographer J.C. Schaarwächter beyond the fact that he owned the finest photographic atelier in Berlin and attracted the elite who resided or visited Berlin from 1872 until the 1890’s. The reputation of J.C. Schaarwächter for making dazzling portraits using the newest technologies was well-known beyond the borders of Germany and attracted celebrated names from the world of art, diplomats, scholars, and dignitaries to utilize the Berlin facility.
Schaarwächter opened his first business in 1872 at 190 Friedrichstrasse, and three years later shifted his atelier and residence to 130 Liepzigstrasse, Berlin. His atelier was one of the first on the continent that was well designed offering refinement throughout. The five story building provided living quarters on a portion of the second level for the photographer, reception and gallery on the street level, private studio for the famous, costume cabinets & make-up and dressing room, and full-production facilities for the collodian processes necessary to produce carte de visite, cabinet card, and paper enlargements.
Mr. Schaarwächter had developed a significant art business which up to 1875 Mr. Lander had always held leadership, largely due to his imagination and design of the separate atelier spaces. Schaarwächter had become the model for his photography comrades through his vision of creating an ideal photography establishment. In the old business location on Friedrichstrasse there were obstacles which could not allow for the ease of accomplishing the business tasks of a growing number of clients and appropriate use of equipment, and this situation forced rethinking and redesign of the photography business.
Germany: Georg Stüffler
Munich (active 1870-1890)
All that is known about Georg Stüffler is that he was active in the City of Munich from 1870 until 1890. Portrait photographs and architectural city subjects can be attributed to Stüffler. In 1890, a bound book of cabinet card images depicting architecture of Munich, titled "Georg Stüffler Munchen" was published by A. Barthel, Leipzig.
Italy: Varischi Artico e C.
In 1900, Arturo Varischi and Giovanni Artico assumed ownership of the L. Ricci portrait studio where they had both trained as employees. L. Ricci was one of the earliest photographers in Milano, having established a daguerreotype business prior to 1850. The L. Ricci studio had long history of portraiture service for the prominent citizens of the city.
Varischi & Artico Company shared the business location at 22 Corso V. Em., No. 110 & 111 (22 Corso Victor Emanuel) with Angelo Pettazzi, an established merchant and producer of photographic equipment and supplies since 1871.
Varischi & Artico gained reputation for infant portraits and for their ability to attract famous musicians, singers, actors and writers to their studio. The renowned stage performers who appeared at La Scala theatre came to the studio for their publicity and souvenir photographs and picture postcards. The majority of Varischi & Artico images can be documented between the years 1900 and 1920. The company signature is first shown as Varischi Artico & Co. and later appears as Varischi & Artico Co. On postcard photographs the credit imprint reads: Fot. Varischi & Artico - Milano.
Italy: I. Calzolari
Icilio Calzolari purchased the photography studio of Alessandro Duroni in 1865. Duroni was one of the pioneer photographers of Milano having first operated a daguerreoype studio at Corso Francesco 593 since 1839. The second studio site at Corso Victor Emanuele 13 was the location of the Calzolari portrait studio. In 1877, there were two additional addresses shown for Calzolari; Corso Venezia 77 and Via Manin 12, which documents the success of the studio. In 1888, Guigoni & Bossi purchased the Calzolari business for 30,000 lire and continued to use the Calzolari printed carte de visite and cabinet card backsides until 1890, but changed the fronts to reflect new ownership at the Co. V. Emanuele 13 address.
Italy: Guigoni & Bossi
M. Guigoni & E. Bossi operated a portrait studio at Corso Victor Emanuele 13 which specialized in childrens portraits, music personalities and government leaders. They had purchased the photography business of Icilio Calzolari for 30,000 lire in 1888, producing carte de visite, cabinet cards, and silver prints. Internationally known actors, singers, and composers who came to Milano for performances at La Scala and other theatres were attracted to the studio. Giocomo Puccini, Nellie Melba, Joseph Joachim, Eleonore Duse, Pietro Mascagni and many others had their portraits made by Guigoni & Bossi. In 1899, the studio documented a hunting party of Victor Emanuel III to the Norwegian Artic, producing silver prints of the expedition. Guigoni & Bossi show a second address for the business at Corso Victor Emanuele 22 in 1900.
After 1900 the studio produced gelatin silver prints and their photographs were found in numerous publications. A silver print photograph of WW I Italian general, Carlo Perro di Santa Maria autographed 30 March, 1924 mounted and embossed with mark of Guigoni & Bossi demonstrates the business operated into the 1920s.
Great Britain: Herbert Rose Barraud (1845–1896)
Herbert Rose Barraud was a highly respected photographer who operated a number of studios in London between 1883 and 1896. His clientele included stage performers, clergy, scientists, writers, high-ranking military, and many noted businessmen.
His first studio location was 96 Gloucester Place, Portman Square, Middlesex, 1883, and he later operated at Piccadilly 1893-96, and his last address was 126 Piccadilly, 1897.
Great Britain: Southwell Brothers
William Henry Southwell (1823-1870)
Frederick Southwell (1833–1883)
Edwin Southwell (1840–1882)
The Southwell Brothers, William, Frederick, and Edwin were sons of a piano maker, William Southwell of St. Pancras. The two oldest sons trained as piano makers, and were associated to that business until around 1861, when they opened their first photography studio at 16 Baker Street. In 1862 a court case was heard against Mr. Hayward under the new copyright laws a photograph of actress Lydia Thompson made by the Southwell Brothers.
In 1866, the Southwell Brothers had studios at 22 Baker Street and 64A Bond Street, London. The studios entered copyrights for 276 photographs at Stationers’ Hall between 1862 and 1864. Copyrights would only be sought for celebrity images which could be sold in quantity. Their last copyright image was wedding photograph of Adelina Patti made in 1868.
William died at age 47 on 15 September, 1870. The brothers, Frederick and Edwin continued the business at 22 Baker Street. The Southwell Brothers Studio continued to operate for a few more years but the studio was closed by 1880. A newspaper notice shown in September 1880 by Messrs. Boning & Small proposed destroying all negatives taken by their predecessors at 22 Baker Street, Southwell Brothers, unless specifically instructed to the contrary.
Great Britain: Camille Silvy (1834-1910)
Camille Silvy was born at Nogent-le-Rotrou, France in 1834. He credited his interest photography to drawing lessons he had received as a child. He later studied law and had become a diplomat, but after visit to Algiers gained an interest in photography. In the beginning his interest was landscape and he captured the countryside outside Paris in the traditions of the Barbizon School painters. He became a member of the Societe Francaise de Photographie in 1858, and a year later he had moved to London.
Silvy took over the photography studio of Caldesi & Montecchi in London in 1859. Opening a new studio at 38-38B Porchester Terrace, Bayswater W., in 1862.
He operated a portrait studio producing cartes de visite (thought to be the first in London to specialize in the cartes) and quickly became a member of the Photographic Society of London. Within two and a half years he had taken seven thousand portraits. His reputation was very high and the famous visited his studio.
In July, 1868 he sold his London studio to theatre photographer, Adolphe and returned to France. With his health wrecked by poisoning from photography chemicals, Silvy died at age seventy-five in 1910.
Russia: Miron Ambramovich Sherling
St. Petersburg, Petrograd, Leningrad
Russian photographer Miron Ambramovich Sherling has been connected to the style known as "pictorial photography" which is linked to a group of artist photographers who were active in Russian from 1900 until 1930. Using traditional views of the figure and landscape the photographers sought the emotional side and experimented with soft lenses and sophisticated printing techniques. Critics of the times said "the artists sought to make photography painting." In images shown at a recent exhibit from the M. Golosovsky Collection entitled, Russian Pictorialism – Chapter I, images are often blurred and have granular texture. Sherling did a series of the opera basso, Fedor Chaliapin, in stage costume with heightened emotional drama. Chaliapin besides being the top bass singer of his day was of equal renown to the great Enrico Caruso. Chaliapin’s great acting abilities and willingness to display character in front of the camera added dramatic impact to Sherling’s portraits.
USA: Benjamin J. Falk (1852 – 1925)
New York
Benjamin ‘Jake‘ Falk at the turn of the 20th century was the most reputable theatrical portraitist working in New York. Born in New York City and educated at City College, Falk apprenticed with George Rockwood, the Broadway portrait photographer. In 1877, he opened his first studio, distressingly far from the theater district, yet he was determined to specialize in theatrical images. His personal audacity and his attention to the latest technological inventions kept him in business despite his lacking the opulent studio fixtures of his rivals Sarony and Jose Mora.
Performers had to cart their costumes and props to Falk‘s premises for sittings. His inability to pay for exclusive picture rights with stars periodically got him into law suits, such as an 1887 contest with Lilian Olcott who presumed she had entered such an arrangement, but was informed she had to pay for prints that she ordered. Falk was an aggressive businessman, repeatedly bringing debtors to court throughout his career more than any other photographer in the city.
In theatrical history Falk is most noted for taking the first in theatre production photographs. Using electrical lights, he captured the first stage picture, an Act II tableaux from ‘The Russian Honeymoon‘ at the Madison Square Theater on May 1, 1883. By 1890, he had become a force in photographic circles, pushing for faster exposure times and more stable photographic emulsions.
By 1905 he was the senior active photographer on the New York scene. While the majority of portraitist in New York City considered themselves ‘Society Photographers,‘ Falk, emulating his model, Napoleon Sarony (whose bronze bust adorned the sitting room of Falk‘s townhouse), asserted that he was a theatrical photographer.
(Kindly provided by: Dr. David S. Shields, McClintock Professor of Southern Letters, Department of English, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208)
USA: Jose Mora (1850?-1926)
New York
According to the 1880 US Census list Jose Mora was born in Cuba around 1850. His father was a wealthy planter who sent Jose to Europe to study art, but his son became interested in photography. The 1868 Cuban Revolution forced the Mora family to the United States where the young Jose joined them. Jose studied under the popular New York City photographer, Napoleon Sarony. He opened his own studio in 1870 by taking over Gurney & Son‘s gallery at 707 Broadway after gaining business experience working for Sarony. He soon established himself as one of the most prominent celebrity photographers in New York. He ran a successful, profitable business, staffed by men who were listed by name (behind the scenes staff rarely got credit) in the October 1878 issue of Photographic Times - -H. C. Terrington in charge of the reception room, A. H. Atwood in charge of printing and J. J. Montgomery in charge of the dark room. Montgomery was hailed as Mora‘s "right-hand man both in sky-light and dark-room."
A unique feature of Mora‘s gallery was the many backgrounds and props he used to enhance his portraits. Steps, screens, windows and rocks created an environmental effect. Most of Mora‘s sales were based upon his celebrity image cabinet card photographs, usually of stage performers, displayed in theaters and hotels in the United States and Europe. His photographs were also distributed by the New York photographic supply firm of E. & H. T. Anthony through their catalogues.
Mora claimed to have never displayed his work at the numerous photographic fairs and conventions even though his studio was known in other places. In a letter published in the October 1881 issue of Anthony‘s Photographic Bulletin he writes to L. W. Seavey, the New York secretary at the second annual Convention of Photographer‘s Association of America: "Dear Friend ... I received your letter in reference to my not exhibiting at the late Photo Convention. My answer is, that I have never exhibited in my life, and neither do I expect to. " Yours Truly, J. M. Mora
Jose Mora closed his studio in 1893 for unknown reasons. He was only forty-three and possibly changed professions. His printing manager, A. H. Atwood, opened a studio in June 1882. His "right-hand man," J. J. Montgomery became a traveling salesman.
On September 16, 1926, The New York Times gave an account of the last days of Jose Mora. In June of that year he was found unconscious in his room at the Hotel Breslin. He had been living as a hermit since 1911, relying on other guests for food even though it was later found that he had almost $9000 in savings. Strewn about the room were scraps of food, the tub was filled with old newspaper clippings and theater programs, and photographs were pinned to the wall. His only companions were four pigeons. Mora was taken to St. Vincent‘s Hospital and, although his physical condition improved, his mental condition did not. A sheriff‘s jury found him incompetent, confining him at the hospital. He died only about a month later on October 18, 1926. The only known next of kin were cousins in New York, Cuba and Brazil.
Sources: Robert Taft, Photography and the American Scene
William S. Johnson, Nineteenth-Century Photography: An Annotated Bibliography
USA: H. Rocher
Henry Rocher operated a portrait studio at 88 North Clark Street during the 1870s in Chicago. He is shown in the 1880 census records, but there is little personal information for this photographer. A photograph of black sculptor, Edmonia Lewis by H. Rocher is in the archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society and records of Edmonia Lewis indicate that she posed for Rocher in 1870. Backmarks for cdv and cbc of the studio are shown at the Illinois Geneaolgy Website in the photographers index. During the 1880's his studio is located at 88 North Clark Street. Perhaps his earlier studio address was victim to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871? Rocher's studio attracted the more famous citizens and celebrity performers during the period of 1885-87. Clara Louise Kellogg's images date to 1885, and the famous actress Mary Anderson posed for Rocher in 1887.
USA: Sarony
New York
Napoleon Sarony (1821–1896)
Otto Sarony (1859–1903)
Sarony Studio dominated the theatrical portraiture market during the last half of the 19th century, remained a power in theater publicity circles until the mid 1920s, and a brand name portrait studio until the 20th century. Founded by the lithographer and bon vivant Napoleon Sarony and continued by his son Otto Sarony (1859-1903), and subsequent owners well into the 20th century as an agency employing staff photographers.
Sarony proved to be the most enterprising celebrity photographer of the post-Civil War era. His studio on Fifth Avenue, a famously extravagant temple of odd props, old art, and stuffed exotic wildlife, hosted sittings with the important personages of the era. Napoleon's task was to pose the sitter, while his aide, Benjamin J. Richardson, operated the camera. Specialists exposed the plates and processed the prints. He mass marketed images, first carte de visites, then cabinet cards of actors and actresses.
He dressed in exotic costume, injected himself in every high society scene he could manage, and with Barnumesque style, cultivated publicity. He was a clubman, art collector, drama critic, gourmand, and philanthropist.
His will endowed his son Otto with the business on the condition he keep it open for 15 years. Otto could draw $75 weekly as salary. Otto was no businessman, and Sarony Studio was forced into foreclosure. In 1903 Otto revealed new owners for the use of his name and he was paid $35 a week. Otto Sarony died of pneumonia on September 13, 1903. Three hundred artists and actors attended the funeral.
T. Max Hochstetler (June 2007) 



Getting around


HOME  BACK>>> Subscriptions <<< | Testimonials | Login | FREE NEWSLETTER
 Facebook LuminousLint 
 Twitter @LuminousLint