MARIE WAINWRIGHT: PORTRAIT OF A THEATRE ACTRESS (PHOTOGRAPHED BY SARONY)

 

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These cabinet cards feature Marie Wainwright (1853-1923), an American stage actress and singer. She also appeared in three silent films between 1918  and 1920. Most of her fame came from the Victorian stage. She was born in Philadelphia and as educated in Paris, France. She received her acting training in Paris. Her first stage appearance was in New York in “Romeo and Juliette (1877)”. Her career flourished afterward. She spent many years in the Boston Museum company and later on, operated her own theatre company. During her career, she was the leading lady for Edwin Booth, Lawrence Barrett, and other well known actors. She appeared primarily in classics and high dramas until the turn of the century. She then appeared in more contemporary productions. Her resume includes roles in “H. M. S. Pinafore” and “Diplomacy”. When asked why she entered the acting profession, in a New York Times interview (1878), she stated that she did it for her children’s sake. Wainwright claimed that she was married before the age of fifteen, and had three kids before she turned twenty-one years of age. She stated that her husband was not supporting her and the children, and she needed to work for financial reasons. It appears that the breakup of Wainwright’s marriage was a hot news item. The marital conflict was quite dramatic and there were some questions about Ms. Wainwright’s character. The top  photographic portrait is by Sarony’s New York City  studio. Sarony was a famous celebrity photographer and other examples of his work can be seen by clicking on the category labelled “Photographer: Sarony”. This image shows Wainwright wearing a white gown and bonnet. She is holding a book and rosary beads.

The second cabinet card was also photographed by Sarony. Miss Wainwright certainly was a pretty woman. The reverse of the cabinet card has an inscription describing some aspects of her career. There is also a stamp from a photographic supply dealer on the photo’s reverse. The dealer is C. E. Hopkins whose business was located in Brooklyn, New York. Mr Hopkins was an excellent self promoter as illustrated by mention of his name and business in several photographic journals of his time. For example, “Photographic Times” (1890) recounts that one of Mr Hopkins’s amateur customers produced a series of photographs pertaining to a duel, that Mr Hopkins had shared with the publication. It is likely that this cabinet card portrait of Miss Wainwright once could be found “for sale” in C. E. Hopkins’s shop.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The ne’er-do-well husband mentioned in the 1878 interview would have been Winston Slaughter. Wainwright married actor Louis James in 1879 and they separated “professionally” in 1889 and personally shortly after. That was the marital conflict that made headlines.

  2. What a wonderful piece to have in your collection, especially with the colorful history behind it! I love the fact that she is wearing white and holding rosary beads as if to say, “see how innocent I am.” Thanks for posting this beautiful picture!


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