MYSTERY CHANTEUSE PHOTOGRAPHED BY NADAR

ILBERT_0002This Cabinet Card presents a bit of a mystery.  The photograph is by famed French photographer, P. Nadar of Paris. The subject of the photograph is a mystery. The reverse of the card has the name “Ilbert”  written in two places. In addition the word “Chanteuse” also appears. Is she an opera singer? Is she a nightclub singer? The woman is very stylish and is wearing a fur and interesting hair clip. Hopefully, a viewer will leave a comment with some identifying information.                                                    ADDENDUM: This photograph entered into the cabinet card gallery in 2009. Since then there have been a number of cabinet card gallery visitors that have left comments concerning the identity of the subject of this  image. There has been some disagreement, but at least two visitors have identified this performer as being Yvette Guilbert (1867-1944). To follow the discussion about identification, check out the comment section below. Now back to Mlle Guilbert. Born as Emma Laure Esther Guilbert, she began singing as a child but worked at a Paris department store model when she turned sixteen. She also took acting and voice lesson and in 1886 she began working as an actress. She debuted at the Variette Theatre in 1888. She was soon singing at a number of popular clubs before starring in Montmartre at the Moulin Rouge in 1890. Over time she began to sing a lot of  monologue “patter songs”. Often the lyrics were risque, even raunchy. Her song frequently featured tragedy and poverty. Guilbert was audacious and audiences ate it up. She was celebrated in France, England and the United States. She was a favorite subject of artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who made many portraits and caricatures of Guilbert. Later in her career, she appeared in silent movies, talkies and made recordings. She also wrote books about the Belle Epoque. It is interesting to note that Nadar, the photographer of the mystery chanteuse also photographed Yvette Guilbert. A Nadar photograph of Mlle Guilbert is part of the collection at the National Library of France. A copy of that image can be found below.

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Published in: on December 1, 2015 at 12:01 pm  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Perhaps Yvette GUILBERT,who sang in MOULIN ROUGE and TOULOUSE LAUTREC painted several portraits of her.

    • This link is no good.

  2. Though the link above, posted by Saudax Arnaud, is definitely of the same woman, other pictures of Yvette Gilbert look nothing like the image above. See: http://footlightnotes.tumblr.com/post/42648271396/yvette-guilbert-186869-1944-french-singer-and Yvette Gilbert had a significantly larger nose. I imagine whoever wrote the name on the back was simply mistaken.

    • If I understand your comment correctly, you are in disagreement about the proposed identity of the mystery chanteuse. Two cabinet card visitors have left comments suggesting that the singer in the photograph is Yvette Guilbert. Saudax Arnaud was able to provide a very reputable source to confirm the identity was Mlle Guilbert. You are in disagreement about the identity based on other Guilbert images that you have seen. Thanks to your comment, I was spurred to action and found that Nadar, the photographer of the mystery chanteuse cabinet card, had indeed taken photographs of Mlle Guilbert. One of these photographs is owned by the National Library of France. I will put a copy of the image in an addendum to what I have already written in the cabinet card gallery about the mystery chanteuse photograph. Thanks for your comment and I would appreciate any other thoughts you might have about the identity of the subject of this image.

  3. Ma Ilbert is not Yvette Guilbert. ‘Chanteuse’ means singer; amd opera performer most likely would say so. She is likely one of 100s of youg women who sang in music hall or caf’-conc’.

    Nadar was a popular photographer; it has no significance here.

    The girl in the tutu might be Yvette….but I have never heard of her being associate with dancing. Maybe she’s Jane Avril?

  4. This is not Yvette Guilbert. Just by sheer study of photographs. Yvette’s features are more angular. Mlle. Ilbert’s more rounded. There’s a definite difference between the two.
    Nadar may or may not have originated the photograph. This photograph of Mlle. Ilbert appears on cigarette saving cards of the era. The photo was possibly peddled by many. See below

    http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/search/index?utf8=%E2%9C%93&keywords=+ilbert


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