MYSTERIOUS STAGE ACTRESS: HELENE VERDES

helene-yerkes

This vintage real photo postcard features actress Helene Verdes. At least I think that she is a stage actress. Perhaps a cabinet card gallery visitor knows something about her and will leave some biographical information in the form of a comment. I tried to research her but drew blanks. The photograph of Miss Verdes is by Lucien Walery and he certainly is known for his postcard portraits of theatre performers. Miss Verdes apparently didn’t receive much fame from her theatrical endeavors despite her great beauty.  Lucien Walery was a celebrated Paris photographer known for his portraits of artists and cabaret dancers from the city’s music halls. He is very well known for his portraits of Mata Hari and Josephine Baker. Walery did a lot of work in the genre of nude/erotic photography. He photographed the beautiful women of Paris between the early 1900’s and the 1920’s. Apparently there is considerable debate about Walery’s actual identity. Some contend that he was actually Stanislaw Julian Ignacy Count Ostrorog, a British photographer of Polish ancestry who may have moved to Paris in about 1900.  This postcard dates back to the early 1900’s and was published by Marqus Etoile of Paris and is part of a series (no. 310).

helene-yerkes-1

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Published in: on December 22, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Such a beautiful young woman and the tinting in this image is lovely. Monsieur G. Piprot was the man behind “Etoile” and someone I’d love to learn more about.

    The question of Walery’s identity is a favorite puzzle topic.
    It’s pretty well established that Stanisław Julian Ignacy, Count Ostroróg, opened his Paris studio in about 1900, having moved from London where he’d been a partner in the firm Ellis and Walery.

    In London, Walery (a pseudonym the younger count adopted from his father, also a well known photographer who it’s been said created the pseudonym out of his wife’s name, Waleria) made countless portraits of British theatrical celebrities like Gertie Millar and Marie Studholme. It seems pretty straightforward that when he moved to Paris he continued along those same lines. He was well known and successful. He probably enjoyed connections in Paris established by his father before him, who had operated a studio there some time before establishing himself as a photographer in England in the 1880s.

    So, we know who the Walery born Stanislaw Julian Ignacy was. No mystery there and plenty of accessible evidence.

    Who was this Lucien Walery?

    Stanisław Julian Ignacy was born in 1863 and died in 1935.

    If you search online for Lucien Walery, most listed dates of birth and death are also 1863 to 1935. Confusion over these things is always understandable, but we haven’t yet seen any alternate birth and death dates for a Lucien Walery.

    It is also often repeated that this Lucien Walery was active in Paris between 1900 and 1930, the approximate dates of the Count Ostorog’s activity there.

    The statement that Lucien Walery was probably a different person is repeated again and again in different places online (often with identical wording making it feel a bit like a blind copy-paste) and I keep looking, but have yet to find one shred of evidence to suggest that there actually was a Lucien Walery who was a different person from the celebrity photographer Walery who was Stanisław Julian Ignacy, Count Ostroróg.

    These mysteries are always such fun 🙂
    I’d love to hear back from anyone with any additional info. Thanks as always for this great blog that inspires questions and also answers so many. Best holiday wishes.

  2. I found only one item while researching Helene Verdes. In 1908, the French discussed a project to replace the missing arms of Venus de Milo. The arms of French women, specifically Charlotte Deles and Helene Verdes, were assessed to model; however, their arms failed to satisfy. “The shoulders of Charlotte Deles have been compared with those of the great Venus, but her elbows have their knobby points, her forearms taper to ungraceful abruptness to wrists that are weak and ill-formed. Helene Verdes has the same defective forearms, too weak and ill-rounded to her lovely forms above the elbow; yet, Helene!” A Parisian said, “She [Venus] has shoulders like an athlete–see what’s left of her right arm. The nearest you will get to her is one of those beefy American college girls who go in for all kinds of sports.” The newspaper engraving accompanying the article shows both Charlotte Deles and Helene Verdes, with the caption, “Charlotte Deles and Helene Verdes, Noted French Beauties, Whose Arms Do Not Come Up to the Requirements”

    • Thank you for your incredible research effort. Your findings were interesting. This is whats terrific about collecting or viewing these vintage images. You never know where a particular photograph will take you.

  3. You’re welcome. Your wonderful pictures always lead to wanting to know more.


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