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December 18, 2019

The First Woman of Color Photography: 33 Stunning Pics of the '30s Beauties Taken by Madame Yevonde

Born 1893 in London, English photographer was known as Madame Yevonde who pioneered the use of colour in portrait photography.

Yevonde was given a three-year apprenticeship with the portrait photographer Lallie Charles. With the technical grounding she received from working with him, and a gift of £250 from her father, at the age of 21, Yevonde set up her own studio at 92 Victoria Street, London, and began to make a name for herself by inviting well-known figures to sit for free.

By 1921, Madame Yevonde had become a well-known and respected portrait photographer, and moved to larger premises at 100 Victoria Street. Here she began taking advertising commissions and also photographed many of the leading personalities of the day, including A.A. Milne, Barbara Cartland, Diana Mitford, Louis Mountbatten and Noël Coward.

Color photography by by Madame Yevonde

In the early 1930s, Yevonde began experimenting with colour photography, using the new Vivex colour process from Colour Photography Limited of Willesden. In 1932 she put on an exhibition of portrait work at the Albany Gallery, half monochrome and half colour, to enthusiastic reviews.

Yevonde's most famous work was inspired by a theme party held on 5 March 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 highly creative period of Yevonde's career would only last a few years. At the end of 1939, Colour Photographs Ltd closed, and the Vivex process was no more. She returned to working in black and white, and produced many notable portraits.

Yevonde continued working up until her death in 1975, just two weeks short of her 83rd birthday, but is chiefly remembered for her work of the 1930s, which did much to make colour photography respectable.

These stunning color photographs of beautiful women are part of her work that Yevonde took in the 1930s.

Painting the RMS Queen Mary, circa early 1930s

Woman in evening gown, 1930

Joan Maude, 1932

Woman on couch, 1933

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Baroness Gagern as Europa

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Dorothy, Duchess of Wellington as Hecate

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Gertrude Lawrence as the Muse of Comedy

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Lady Alexandra Haig, Baroness Dacre as Circe

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Lady Anne Rhys poses as the goddess Flora

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Lady Bridget Poulett as Arethusa

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Lady Diana Mosley (nee Mitford) as Venus

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Lady Dorothy Warrender as Ceres

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Lady Michael Balcon as Minerva

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Lady Milbanke as Penthesilea, Queen of the Amazons

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Mary Viscountess Ratendone as Euterpe

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Mrs Anthony Eden as Clio, the Muse of History

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Mrs Charles Sweeny (Margaret, Duchess of Argyll) as Helen of Troy

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Mrs James Beck as Daphne

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Mrs Richard Hart Davis as Andromeda

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Mrs Richard Hart Davis as Ariel

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Nadine Countess of Shrewsbury as Ariadne

Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, 1935

Vivien Leigh, 1936

Woman in black long gown, 1936

Fashion shoot, 1937

Rosemary Chance, 1937

Self portrait, 1937

Woman in wedding dress, 1937

Woman with dog, 1937

Woman with sparklers, 1937

Portrait of a beautiful woman, 1938

Model Edwina Rademeyer, 1938

Woman with jewelries, circa 1930s


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