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

Friday, July 30, 2021

Agnes de Mille

This c. 1941 portrait of Agnes de Mille by Elizabeth Montgomery hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.

The innovative choreography of Agnes de Mille helped transform American musical theater in the 1940s and 1950s. Her eclectic style combined elements of folk dancing, classical ballet, and modern dance with everyday gestures and distinctive American themes. Fully integrating dance sequences into the narrative, she used movement to advance plot and express psychology.

This portrait was inspired by one of de Mille's earliest successes, Three Virgins and a Devil (1941)—a comedy set in the Middle Ages—in which she danced the role of The Priggish Virgin. The success of Rodeo (1942), a Western-themed ballet scored by Aaron Copland, prompted an invitation to choreograph the musical Oklahoma! (1943), De Mille went on to choreograph several other important musicals, including Carousel (1945), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), and Paint Your Wagon (1951). She received Tony awards for Brigadoon (1947) and Kwamina (1961). -- NPG

The Library of Congress has this photo by Carl Van Vechten of Agnes de Mille in 3 Virgins and the Devil.

Newspaper readers might remember this 1951 ad for Blue Bonnet Margarine.

Agnes De Mille
Compares Blue Bonnet
—Likes It Best!

Here's a helpful idea from Agnes De Mille. Compare BLUE BONNET Margarine with any spread at any price. Like the noted choreographer, you'll love the delicate, sunny-sweet flavor of this fine-quality all vegetable margarine. You'll appreciate BLUE BONNET's nutrition. No other spread for bread richer in Vitamin A the year around! And you'll welcome its real economy. So buy BLUE BONNET and get “all 3” —Flavor! Nutrition! Econom-e-e. -- The Washington Evening Star, Oct. 28, 1951.

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