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October 28, 2011

Madame Yevonde's Goddesses: Extraordinary Color Photos of 1930s Society Women Dressed as Mythological Figures

Yevonde Cumbers Middleton (1893-1975) was an English photographer, who pioneered the use of colour in portrait photography. She used the professional name Madame Yevonde.

Yevonde's most famous work was inspired by a theme party held on March 5, 1935, where guests dressed as Roman and Greek gods and goddesses. Yevonde subsequently took studio portraits of many of the participants (and others), in appropriate costume and surrounded by appropriate objects.

This series of prints showed Yevonde at her most creative, using color, costume and props to build an otherworldly air around her subjects. She went on to produce further series based on the signs of the zodiac and the months of the year. Partly influenced by surrealist artists, particularly Man Ray, Yevonde used surprising juxtapositions of objects which displayed her sense of humor.

The Honorable Mrs Bryan Guinness as Venus

Mrs Edward Mayer as Medusa

Mrs Anthony Eden as Clio, the Muse of History

Nadine, Countess of Shrewsbury as Ariadne

Lady Milbanke as Penthelisa, Queen of the Amazons

Mrs Charles Sweeny (Margaret, Duchess of Argyll) as Helen of Troy

Lady Michael Balcon as Minerva

Lady Bridgett Poulett as Arethusa

Eileen Hunter (Mrs Ward Jackson) as Dido

Lady Anne Rhys poses as the goddess Flora

Baroness Gagern as Europa

Dorothy, Duchess of Welington as Hecate

Mrs Richard Hart-Davis as Ariel

(Photos: The Yevonde Portrait Archive)


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