Sarah Bernhardt and the Belle Époque
Robert Lehman Foundation Speakers Series
Carol Ockman, Ph.D., Robert Sterling Clark Professor of Art History, Williams College
How did the daughter and niece of courtesans, a Jewish woman, an unwed mother purportedly promiscuous with both sexes, and an eventual amputee, come to be known as “the greatest actress of the Western world”? Charting her 60-year career, this talk focuses on Bernhardt’s remarkable talent for self-promotion at the dawn of mass culture, including her self-presentation, her recourse to the artistic talents of Art Nouveau poster wizard Alphonse Mucha and celebrity photographer Félix Nadar, together with well-publicized eccentricities—a menagerie, an excursion in a hot air balloon, and a resident skeleton and coffin at home.
This event is presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Paris 1900: City of Entertainment.
Thank you to the Robert Lehman Foundation for funding this special series of exhibition-related talks.