My followers should know by now that I have a passion for vintage images, especially those from the turn of the 19th century. I have always believed that I enjoyed a happy former lifetime during that
period of history. It was a period of elegance and gaiety that overlapped the end of the Victorian Age and the start of the Edwardian Age in Great Britain and was dubbed the Gilded Age in the United States. In European social history that period encompassing the late 19th century up until the start of WWI is called le Belle Epoque, French for "Beautiful Era" and was considered the golden age for the upper classes for whom Paris became the fashion center of the world.
During this time period, actresses found the ability to voice their emotions on stage in ways no other women of their time had. This lifestyle and these women spurred the beginning of women's financial and societal independence. Actresses symbolized individuality and a break from male domination, something many women could only dream about. However, there was a lot of societal hostility toward actresses for abandoning a life of homemaking in favor of choosing a career on the stage and refusing to follow the social standards of their day.
One of my plans for the future of this blog is to feature a number of my favorite actresses and artist's models of this period. Many actresses did turn to modeling for painters, sculptors and photographers of the era, many of whom became famous in their own rite, to increase both their income and their notoriety. Some of these women's images will look familiar to many of you who use vintage photos in your art and now you will have a name to identify them. I hope you enjoy discovering these one time famous beauties frozen in time as much as I have enjoyed collecting their images.