Yevonde Cumbers Middleton (1893-1975), or Madame Yevonde, as she was better known, was an English photographer who pioneered the use of colour in portrait photography. Well-educated and an avid supporter of the women's rights movement, this independent lady set up her own photographic studio in London in 1914 being just 21 years old. She experimented with colour photography and the new Vivex technique and became well-known for her portraits of leading personalities of the day.
During the 1930's Madame Yevonde shot a series of photographs, named "Goddesses" portraying well-known socialites of the day dressed up as mythological figures.
According to Wikipedia:
"Yevonde's most famous work was inspired by a theme party held on March 5, 1935, where guests dressed as Roman and Greek gods and goddesses. Yevonde subsequently took studio portraits of many of the participants (and others), in appropriate costume and surrounded by appropriate objects. This series of prints showed Yevonde at her most creative, using colour, costume and props to build an otherworldly air around her subjects. She went on to produce further series based on the signs of the zodiac and the months of the year. Partly influenced by surrealist artists, particularly Man Ray, Yevonde used surprising juxtapositions of objects which displayed her sense of humour."
April Aileen Freda (Leatherman) as Minerva/Athena
Mrs Donald Ross as Europa
Mrs Richard Hart-Davis as Andromeda
Lady Dorothy Etta Warrender (née Rawson, later Lady Bruntisfield) as Ceres/Demeter
Lady Alexandra Henrietta Louisa Haig as Circe
Lady Bridgett Elizabeth Felicia Henrietta Augusta Poulett as Arethusa
The Honorary Mrs James beck as Daphne
Mrs Edward Mayer as Medusa
The Honorable Mrs Bryan Guinness as Venus/Aphrodite
Lady Milbanke as Penthesileia
Mrs Anthony Eden as Clio
Dorothy, Duchess of Wellington as Hecate
Madame Yevonde, Self-portrait, National Portrait Gallery, London
(note the Hecate portrait over the frame)
The "Goddesses" photographs have been published in book form (see here) and recently exhibited at the PM Gallery and House in London - see an article in The Guardian here.
A major exhibition on Madame Yevonde's work took place in the National Portrait Gallery, London in 1990 and a catalogue was published by R. Gibson & P. Roberts, Madame Yevonde: Colour, Fantasy & Myth, London 1990.
Last but not least, you may browse 290 photographs of Madame Yevonde in the National Portrait Gallery site - just click here
P.S. Though as a rule the blog claims no copyright on any of its content, people reposting huge chunks of its posts, photographs, ideas, etc. without mentioning it as a source, should keep in mind that there is such a thing as "netiquette" or common courtesy which requires due attribution.
Much like we (try to) do in Classics with referencing and quoting ;)
By the way, Madame Yevonde's most famous quote is "Be Original or Die!"
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