Sarah Bernhardt

1 portrait on display in Room 29 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sarah Bernhardt, published by William Heinemann, after  Sir William Newzam Prior Nicholson, published 1899 (1897) - NPG D32973 - © Desmond Banks

© Desmond Banks

Sarah Bernhardt

published by William Heinemann, after Sir William Newzam Prior Nicholson
lithographic reproduction of a hand-coloured woodcut, published 1899 (1897)
10 1/8 in. x 9 7/8 in. (258 mm x 251 mm) paper size
acquired Unknown source, 1980
Reference Collection
NPG D32973

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Nicholson began work on this portrait before the French actress arrived in London in June 1897, for the start of her season at the Adelphi Theatre. He used a photograph published in January of that year as a basis for the composition, emphasising the triangular shape of her fastened cape and lending an angularity to her form, which is effectively silhouetted against the stage curtain. Although by the late 1890s Bernhardt's career was beginning to decline, the artist captures the enduring nature of her fame as she confidently tilts her head and stretches out her arms to bow to her audience.

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