University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Sarah Bernhardt:

An Inventory of Her Collection at the Harry Ransom Center



Creator: Bernhardt, Sarah, , 1844-1923
Title: Sarah Bernhardt Collection
Dates: ca. 1860-1977
Dates (Bulk): bulk 1880-1920
Abstract: The collection contains theatrical production materials, playscripts, translations, and theatrical performance photographs from over thirty of Bernhardt's productions, including l'Aiglon, Camille, and Phedre. Also present are personal photographs, postcards, clippings, a scrapbook, caricatures, advertisements, and artistic sketches of Bernhardt.
Extent: 8 document boxes, 1 scrapbook box, 2 oversize boxes, 3 oversize files (5.04 linear feet)
Repository: Harry Ransom Center The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Sarah Bernhardt, "The Divine Sarah," was born Henriette-Rosine Bernard in Paris, France, in 1844. She spent her life gracing the theatrical stages of the world with her interpretations of both classic and modern French drama. Following her education at the drama school of the Paris Conservatoire, Bernhardt made her theatrical debut on stage in an 1862 production of Racine's Iphigenie en Aulide. But it was not until her 1872 performance in Victor Hugo's Ruy Blas that she was recognized and established as a great theatrical actress of her time.

In 1880, Bernhardt began her long series of tours throughout Europe and America. She delighted audiences with her interpretations of characters in productions such as Adrienne Lecouvreur, Frou Frou, Hernani, Jeanne D'Arc, Phedre, and Theodora, to name just a few. Bernhardt also became one of the few female actors of the time to portray a lead male character. She did so in Hamlet and again as the Duc de Reichstadt in Rostand's l'Aiglon. She continued to tour America for the rest of her career, even announcing three separate "farewell" tours between the years 1905-1912. Despite all of the time she spent outside her home country, Bernhardt remained a loyal Frenchwoman. In 1914, she was presented the Legion of Honor award for her continued support of her country and its servicemen. After battling a threatening infection in 1915, Bernhardt lost a leg to amputation, but she still continued to pursue her love of acting and traveling. Her final tour through America lasted from the years 1916 to 1918 and then she returned home to France. Bernhardt continued to practice her craft until her death in 1923.

In addition to her traditional stage work, Bernhardt starred in several silent movies, including two of her better-known films, Queen Elizabeth and Camille in 1911. Aside from acting, Bernhardt was also known to be a gifted artist, sculptor, and writer. She edited and translated many of the plays in which she performed and wrote several novels. Her memoir, Ma double vie (My Double Life), originally published in 1907, is still being reprinted today.

Sources:

Gold, Arthur. Divine Sarah: A Life of Sarah Bernhardt. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991.

"Sarah Henriette Rosine Bernhardt" in The Oxford Companion to the Theatre. London: Oxford University Press, 1967.

Skinner, Cornelia Otis. Madame Sarah. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1966.


Scope and Contents

The Sarah Bernhardt Collection, ca. 1860-1977 (bulk 1880-1920), contains theatrical production photographs, personal photographs, publicity stills, postcards, theater programs and playbills, clippings, and a scrapbook. Also present are several prints, caricatures, advertisements, and artistic sketches of Bernhardt. The collection is arranged in three series: I. Theater Productions, 1872-1920, II. Clippings and Scrapbook, 1879-1977, and III. Other Materials, 1860-1920. Materials in Series I are arranged alphabetically by title of production and then chronologically within each production; materials in Series II and Series III are arranged chronologically where appropriate.

The Theater Production series comprises the bulk of the collection and contains production photographs and theater playbills and programs for over thirty Bernhardt productions. Although the bulk of the production photographs are portrait styled cabinet card photographs, this series contains several photographs of Bernhardt performing on stage. Bernhardt's famous productions of l'Aiglon, Camille, and Phedre are especially well represented. Among the playbills and programs, there are several playscripts, translations, and other versions of plays which are specific to Bernhardt and carry her identification as "the only correct version of my plays translated and printed from my own promptbooks." There are also souvenir programs which contain information on multiple productions.

The Clippings series, while comprehensive during the span of Bernhardt's career with reviews, is very extensive throughout 1923, the year of her death.

The Other Materials series chiefly comprises personal photographs, some family and ceremonial photographs and various portraits, caricatures, advertisements, prints, and artistic sketches. Personalities represented with Bernhardt in the photographs include actress Lillie Langtry, playwright Victorien Sardou, theater mogul Martin Beck, escape artist Harry Houdini, and her manager William Connors. Also in this series is an Alphonse Mucha sketch of Bernhardt as Medea, a copy of a letter from Her Artistic Life, and several advertisements in which Bernhardt used her notoriety to sell various products.

Elsewhere in the Performing Arts Collection, Bernhardt materials can be found in the Poster Collection (which includes several Alphonse Mucha posters of Bernhardt), the Jed Mace Collection, and the B.J. Simmons & Co. Records. Other materials on Sarah Bernhardt can be found in the Ransom Center's Photography Collection and the Manuscripts Collection. The University of Pennsylvania Rare Book and Manuscript Library also offers a substantial collection of Sarah Bernhardt images in their Philip H. Ward Collection of Theatrical Images.


Arrangement

The finding aid for the Sarah Bernhardt Collection is a conflation of the original inventory created in 2003, and of a small addition that was catalogued in 2006. The addition is described only in the Folder List, continuing the box and folder numbering sequence. The Scope and Contents note does not make reference to the addition.

Restrictions

Access:

Open for research


Index Terms

People
Nadar, Paul, 1856-1939.
Sarony, Napoleon, 1821-1896.
Mucha, Alphonse Marie, 1860-1939.
Subjects
Actors--France.
Theater--France.
Document Types
Cabinet photographs.
Cartoons.
Photographs.
Playbills.
Postcards.
Portraits.
Prints.
Scrapbooks.
Theatre programs.

Administrative Information

Acquisition:

Compiled by staff from Albert Davis, Robert Downing, and Messmore Kendall Collections

Provenance

The Sarah Bernhardt Collection was compiled from materials previously organized within the Theater Biography file and is now a discrete collection. A large portion of the materials are originally from the Albert Davis and Messmore Kendall Collections.

Processed by:

Nicolette Schneider, 2003


Sarah Bernhardt Collection -- Folder List

Series I. Theater Productions, ca. 1872-1920

A. Photographic Images, ca. 1872-1920
Adrienne Lecouvreur
Box Folder
1 1 2 photos ca. 1880,
2 ca. 1906, 1 photo, 1 sketch, 1 clipping
3 Agamemnon, n.d., 1 photo
l'Aiglon, ca. 1900
Box Folder
1 4-5 6 photos, 4 clippings
Box Folder
8 1 2 photos, 1 clipping
Box Folder
ob 10 1-2 2 photos
Box Folder
1 6 Athalie, ca. 1920, 1 photo
7 La Beffa, ca. 1910, 1 photo
Camille (La Dame aux Camelias)
Box Folder
1 8-10 ca. 1880, 15 photos, 1 postcard
11 ca. 1890, 2 clippings
12 ca. 1906, 1 postcard
13 ca. 1910, 2 photos
Box Folder
8 2 ca. 1913, 1 print, 1 clipping
Cleopatra,ca. 1890
Box Folder
1 14-17 7 photos, 2 prints, 1 postcard, 1 clipping
18 Clarin, Georges, 3 prints
Cyrano de Bergerac,ca. 1900
Box Folder
1 19-20 3 photos, 3 clippings
Box Folder
8 3 2 photos
Box Folder
1 21 La Dame de Challant, 1 photo ca. 1892
l'Etrangere (The Stranger), ca. 1876
Box Folder
1 22 2 clippings
Box Folder
8 4 6 prints
Box Folder
ob 10 3 2 matted photos
Box Folder
1 23 Fedora, 1 photo ca. 1882
24 Francesca da Rimini, 1 clipping ca. 1902,
25-28 Frou Frou, 13 photos ca. 1880,
Gismonda, ca. 1894
Box Folder
1 29 1 photo, 3 clippings
Box Folder
ob 10 4 Mucha, Alphonse,1 mini-poster
Hamlet, ca. 1900
Box Folder
1 30 1 photo, 2 clippings
Box Folder
ob 10 5 3 photos
6 Berger, Rene,1 print
Hernani
Box Folder
2 1-2 ca. 1877,6 photos
Box Folder
8 5 ca. 18872 prints,
Box Folder
2 3 n.d.,1 photo, 1 print, 1 clipping
Izeyl, ca. 1894
Box Folder
2 4-5 3 photos; 7 clippings
Box Folder
8 6 1 photo
Box Folder
ob 10 7 1 clipping
Jeanne d'Arc, ca. 1890
Box Folder
2 6-7 7 photos
FlatFile
1 1 print
Leah, ca. 1892
Box Folder
2 8 2 photos, 3 prints, 3 clippings
Box Folder
8 7 1 photo
Macbeth, ca. 1884
Box Folder
2 9 1 print
Box Folder
8 8 1 print
Une Nuit de Noel sous la Terreur
Box Folder
2 10-12 ca. 1912 10 photos, 1 photo with autograph,
Box Folder
ob 10 8 ca. 1913, 1 clipping
Box Folder
2 13 La Passant, ca. 1868 2 photos, 1 clipping,
Phedre
Box Folder
2 14-18 ca. 1880, 30 photos
19 ca. 1880-1906,
4 clippings
Box Folder
8 9 ca. 1906,2 photos, 1 negative photo
Box Folder
2 20 ca. 1916-1918,1 photo, 2 clippings
La Princesse Lointaine,ca. 1895
Box Folder
2 21 3 photos, 1 postcard, 2 clippings
FlatFile
2 Berthon, Paul,1 print
Box Folder
2 22-23 Ruy Blas, ca. 1872,8 photos, 1 clipping
Theodora, ca. 1884
Box Folder
3 1-2 10 photos, 2 clippings
Box Folder
8 10 1 photo
Box Folder
3 3 Theroigne de Mericourt, ca. 1902,3 photos
4-5 La Tosca, ca. 1887,2 photos; 2 prints, 2 clippings
6 Varennes, ca. 1904,1 clipping
7 Multiple productions,1 photo
FlatFile
3 Farewell American Tour, 1905-1906,1 print
Box Folder
3 8 Miscellaneous,1 postcard, 1 clipping
B. Playbills and Programs, ca. 1880-1918
Box Folder
3, 8 9-10, 11 Adrienne Lecouvreur, 1880-1896
Box Folder
3 11-15 l'Aiglon, 1900-1901, 1910, n.d.
16 Angelo, 1905
Camille
Box Folder
8 12 1880-1887
Box Folder
3 17-19 1881-1910
Cleopatra
Box Folder
3 20-21 1891, n.d.
Box Folder
8 13 1892
Box Folder
ob 10 9 Cyrano de Bergerac, 1900
Box Folder
3 22 La Faux Modele, n.d.
Fedora
Box Folder
8 14 1887, 1891
Box Folder
3 23 1887, 1892
24 n.d.
Frou Frou
Box Folder
8 15 1880-1881
Box Folder
3 25 1881
26 Gismonda, n.d.
27 Hamlet, 1899-1900
28-9 Hecube, 1916-1917
Hernani
Box Folder
8 16 1880
Box Folder
4 1 1887
2 Izeyl, 1896, n.d.
3 Jeanne d'Arc, n.d.
4 Leah, 1892
5 Madame X, 1910
6 Phedre, 1918
Box Folder
8 17 La Princesse Georges, 1881
Box Folder
4 7 Du Theatre au Champ d'Honour, 1916
Box Folder
4, 8 8, 18 Theodora, 1887
La Tosca
Box Folder
8 19 1892, 1896
Box Folder
4 9-10 1905, n.d.
Box Folder
ob 10 10 n.d.
Multiple productions
Box Folder
8 20 1880
Box Folder
4 11 1881-1906
12 1910-1911
13 1912-1913
Box Folder
8 20 1916
Box Folder
4 14 1916-1917
15 n.d.
Box Folder
ob 10 11 Miscellaneous



Series II. Clippings & Scrapbook, ca. 1879-1977, n.d.

Box Folder
5 1 1879-1899
2 1900-1913
Box Folder
8 21 1900-1915
Box Folder
5 3 1914-1922
1923
Box Folder
5, 8 4, 22 March
Box Folder
5 5 April
6 May-June
7 July-September
Box Folder
ob 11 1 1923-1924
Box Folder
5 8 1924-1929
9 1930-1977
Box Folder
ob 11 2 1937
Box Folder
8 23 1942, n.d.
Box Folder
5 10 n.d.
Box
9 scrapbook, ca. 1900-1906



Series III. Other Materials, ca. 1860-1920, n.d.

A. Personal Photographs, ca. 1860-1920
Box Folder
6 1 ca. 1860,1 photo
2 ca. 1870,7 photos
3 ca. 1876, 3 photos, 2 prints
4-10 ca. 1880, 33 photos
11 ca. 1887, Bernhardt with Lillie Langtry, 3 photos, 1 clipping
12-13 ca. 1890, 13 photos, 1 clipping
Box Folder
8 24 ca. 1890, 1 photo
Box Folder
6 14 ca. 1896, Bernhardt with Suzanne Seylor, 1 photo
ca. 1900
Box Folder
6 15 15 items (6 images, 9 duplicates)
16 10 items (3 images, 7 duplicates)
17 40 items (1 image, 39 duplicates)
Box Folder
7 1 24 items (2 images, 22 duplicates)
Box Folder
8 25 ca. 1903, Bernhardt with Victorien Sardou, 1 clipping
26 ca. 1904, 1 photo
Box Folder
7, ob 11 2, 3 ca. 1906, Bernhardt in front of tent, 1 photo, 1 negative photo; 1 photo
Box Folder
7 3 ca. 1910, Bernhardt with Harry Houdini,15 items (3 images, 12 duplicates)
4-5 ca. 1910-1920, 6 photos, 1 postcard, 3 clippings
Box Folder
8 27 ca. 1911, Bernhardt with manager, William Connors, 1 photo
28 ca. 1913, Bernhardt with Martin Beck, 2 photos
Box Folder
7 6 ca. 1916, Bernhardt with company, 1 clipping
7 ca. 1918, Bernhardt with family, 2 photos
Box Folder
ob 11 4 n.d., Bernhardt on tour train, 1 photo
B. Family and Other, n.d.
Box Folder
7 8 Bernard, Royal, 2 photos
9 Bernhardt, Jeanne, 6 photos, 1 clipping
10 Damala, Jacques, 1 photo
11 Other people,2 clippings
12 Bernhardt tent, 2 photos
13 Belle Ile en Mer, 4 postcards
C. Ceremonies, ca. 1913-1914
Box Folder
8 29-31 ca. 1913, Wreath presentation, 12 photos
32 ca. 1913, Award in New York, 3 photos
Box Folder
7 14 ca. 1914, Legion of Honor presentation, 1 clipping
D. Miscellaneous, ca. 1903, n.d.
Box Folder
7, ob 11 15, 5 Advertisements, 2 clippings; 3 clippings
Box Folder
7 16 Autograph, ca. 1903
Box Folder
ob 11 6-7 Bautier, Marguerite, sketch and mat
8 Berger, Rene, print (Bernhardt as Tosca?)
Box Folder
7 17 Caricatures, 4 prints, 1 clipping
18 Her Artistic Life 6 page copy of letter
Mucha, Alphonse
Box Folder
8 33 Sketch of Bernhardt as Medea
Box Folder
7 19 3 clippings of posters
Portraits
Box Folder
7 20 5 prints, 4 clippings
Box Folder
8 34 9 prints, 1 clipping
Box Folder
ob 11 9-10 3 prints
Box Folder
7 21 Sculptures, 4 photos
Miscellaneous
Box Folder
7 22 2 items
Box Folder
8 35 1 print, 3 clippings



2006 Addition to the Sarah Bernhardt Collection

oversize-box
osb 12.1 Mucha, Alfonse. Bernhardt as Camille in La Dame aux Camelias at the Thêátre de la Renaissance, undated
Poster, 13.5 × 5.25" (1 item)
folder
7A: Oversize Portfolio A Mucha, Alfonse. Bernhardt as the Duc de Reichstadt in L'Aiglon, 1900
Poster, 80.25 × 30" (2 items)
folder
ff 6 Mucha, Alfonse. Bernhardt as Gismonda (American tour under the direction of Abbey, Schoeffel, and Grau), undated
Poster, 39.5 × 30", 40.25 × 30" (2 items)
folder
7A: Oversize Portfolio A Mucha, Alfonse. Bernhardt as Gismonda, undated
Poster, 77.75 × 28.5" (1 item)
Mucha, Alfonse. Bernhardt as Hamlet at the Thêátre Sarah Bernhardt, 1899
Poster, 82.75 × 28.5" (1 item)
Mucha, Alfonse. Bernhardt as Hamlet at the Thêátre Sarah Bernhardt, 1899
Poster, 82.25 × 29.75" (1 item)
flat-file
ff 4 Mucha, Alfonse. Bernhardt as Lorenzaccio at the Thêátre de la Renaissance, undated
Poster, 41.75 × 14.75" (1 item)
oversize-box
osb 12.2 Berthaud, H./Helios Studio. Bernhardt as Mariette in François le Champi, undated
Photograph, 11.5 × 9" (1 item)
folder
7A: Oversize Portfolio A Mucha, Alfonse. Bernhardt as Medee, 1898
Poster, 85 × 34.5" (1 item)
Mucha, Alfonse. Bernhardt as Photine in La samaritaine at the Thêátre de la Renaissance, undated
Poster, 69.5 × 23.5" (1 item)
Clairin, Georges. Bernhardt as Theodora, undated
Poster, 81 × 30.25" (1 item)
Orazi, Manuel. Bernhardt as Theodora, undated
Poster, 47.5 × 33" (1 item)
oversize-box
osb 1.3 Orazi, Manuel. Bernhardt as Theodora at the Thêátre de la Porte Saint-Martin, undated
Print, 16 × 11.5" (1 item)
flat-file
ff 5 Mucha, Alfonse. Bernhardt as Tosca at the Thêátre Sarah Berhardt, 1899
Poster, 41.5 × 15" (1 item)