"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Alla Nazimova

This 1910 portrait of Alla Nazimova by Edward Emerson Simmons hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
Having studied with the famous actor and teacher Constantin Stanislavsky in Russia, Alla Nazimova came to New York City with a Russian troupe of actors and decided to stay. Like her teacher, she worked hard to “become” her characters, rather than to seek recognition for her own stage personality. In 1906 and 1907, she demonstrated this gift by playing the leads in productions of Henrik Ibsen's dramas A Doll's House (1879) and Hedda Gabler (1890). Critics marveled at the totality of her shift from one character to another.

Edward Simmons captured Nazimova's dramatic flair and beauty in this painting, which was made at the height of her reputation. In later years, she alternated between the stage and roles in early Hollywood motion pictures.  -- NPG

The pose and hat in Simmons' portrait are quite similar to this 1908 photo by A. Dupont which belongs to the Library of Congress.

The square format of the painting have been necessitated by the elliptical format of the photo.

The photo below appeared in a number of newspapers in 1912 over an etymological anecdote by Alla Nazimova entitled  My Funniest Story, It Came from My Interest in English.

Here, Alla Nazimova is shown wrapping herself in the flag of the National Woman's Party, in October of 1923.

Madame Alla Nazimova, the great Emotional actress, picks up the Purple White & Gold Banner of the National Woman's Party in token of her Allegiance to Equality for men and women. Mme. Nazimova has just become a Founder of the Woman's Party. -- LOC

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