University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Sarah Bernhardt:

An Inventory of Her Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center



Creator: Bernhardt, Sarah, 1844-1923
Title:Sarah Bernhardt Collection
Inclusive Dates:ca. 1860-1977
Bulk Dates: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.
RLIN Record #:TXRC03-A2
Extent:8 document boxes, 1 scrapbook box, 2 oversize boxes, 3 oversize files (5.04 linear feet)
Repository:Harry Ransom Humanities Research 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. Currently the addition is described only by a Folder List which has been appended to the original inventory, continuing the box and folder numbering sequence. The Scope and Contents note does not make reference to the addition, and the RLIN record for the collection summarizes the original inventory only.
Sarah Bernhardt Collection--Original Inventory [This Page]
Sarah Bernhardt Collection--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
BoxFolder
112 photos ca. 1880,
2 1 photo, 1 sketch, 1 clipping ca. 1906,
3Agamemnon, n.d., 1 photo
l'Aiglon, ca. 1900
BoxFolder
14-56 photos, 4 clippings
BoxFolder
812 photos, 1 clipping
BoxFolder
ob 101-22 photos
BoxFolder
16Athalie, 1 photo ca. 1920,
7La Beffa, 1 photo ca. 1910,
Camille (La Dame aux Camelias)
BoxFolder
18-10 15 photos, 1 postcard ca. 1880,
11 2 clippings ca. 1890,
12 1 postcard ca. 1906,
13 2 photos ca. 1910,
BoxFolder
82 1 print, 1 clipping ca. 1913,
Cleopatra, ca. 1890
BoxFolder
114-177 photos, 2 prints, 1 postcard, 1 clipping
18Clarin, Georges, 3 prints
Cyrano de Bergerac, ca. 1900
BoxFolder
119-203 photos, 3 clippings
BoxFolder
832 photos
BoxFolder
121La Dame de Challant, 1 photo ca. 1892
l'Etrangere (The Stranger), ca. 1876
BoxFolder
1222 clippings
BoxFolder
846 prints
BoxFolder
ob 1032 matted photos
BoxFolder
123Fedora, 1 photo ca. 1882
24Francesca da Rimini, 1 clipping ca. 1902,
25-28Frou Frou, 13 photos ca. 1880,
Gismonda, ca. 1894
BoxFolder
1291 photo, 3 clippings
BoxFolder
ob 104Mucha, Alphonse,1 mini-poster
Hamlet, ca. 1900
BoxFolder
1301 photo, 2 clippings
BoxFolder
ob 1053 photos
6Berger, Rene,1 print
Hernani
BoxFolder
21-26 photos ca. 1877,
BoxFolder
852 prints, ca. 1887
BoxFolder
23 n.d.,1 photo, 1 print, 1 clipping
Izeyl, ca. 1894
BoxFolder
24-53 photos; 7 clippings
BoxFolder
861 photo
BoxFolder
ob 1071 clipping
Jeanne d'Arc, ca. 1890
BoxFolder
26-77 photos
FlatFile
11 print
Leah, ca. 1892
BoxFolder
282 photos, 3 prints, 3 clippings
BoxFolder
871 photo
Macbeth, ca. 1884
BoxFolder
291 print
BoxFolder
881 print
Une Nuit de Noel sous la Terreur
BoxFolder
210-12 10 photos, 1 photo with autograph, ca. 1912
BoxFolder
ob 108 1 clipping ca. 1913,
BoxFolder
213La Passant, 2 photos, 1 clipping, ca. 1868
Phedre
BoxFolder
214-18 30 photos ca. 1880,
19 ca. 1880-1906,
4 clippings
BoxFolder
89 ca. 1906,2 photos, 1 negative photo
BoxFolder
220 ca. 1916-1918,1 photo, 2 clippings
La Princesse Lointaine, ca. 1895
BoxFolder
2213 photos, 1 postcard, 2 clippings
FlatFile
2Berthon, Paul,1 print
BoxFolder
222-23Ruy Blas, ca. 1872,8 photos, 1 clipping
Theodora, ca. 1884
BoxFolder
31-210 photos, 2 clippings
BoxFolder
8101 photo
BoxFolder
33Theroigne de Mericourt, ca. 1902,3 photos
4-5La Tosca, ca. 1887,2 photos; 2 prints, 2 clippings
6Varennes, ca. 1904,1 clipping
7Multiple productions,1 photo
FlatFile
3Farewell American Tour, 1905-1906,1 print
BoxFolder
38Miscellaneous,1 postcard, 1 clipping
B. Playbills and Programs, ca. 1880-1918
BoxFolder
3, 8 9-10, 11Adrienne Lecouvreur, 1880-1896
BoxFolder
311-15l'Aiglon, 1900-1901, 1910, n.d.
16Angelo, 1905
Camille
BoxFolder
812 1880-1887
BoxFolder
317-19 1881-1910
Cleopatra
BoxFolder
320-21 1891, n.d.
BoxFolder
813 1892
BoxFolder
ob 109Cyrano de Bergerac, 1900
BoxFolder
322La Faux Modele, n.d.
Fedora
BoxFolder
814 1887, 1891
BoxFolder
323 1887, 1892
24 n.d.
Frou Frou
BoxFolder
815 1880-1881
BoxFolder
325 1881
26Gismonda, n.d.
27Hamlet, 1899-1900
28-9Hecube, 1916-1917
Hernani
BoxFolder
816 1880
BoxFolder
41 1887
2Izeyl, 1896, n.d.
3Jeanne d'Arc, n.d.
4Leah, 1892
5Madame X, 1910
6Phedre, 1918
BoxFolder
817La Princesse Georges, 1881
BoxFolder
47Du Theatre au Champ d'Honour, 1916
BoxFolder
4, 88, 18Theodora, 1887
La Tosca
BoxFolder
819 1892, 1896
BoxFolder
49-10 1905, n.d.
BoxFolder
ob 1010 n.d.
Multiple productions
BoxFolder
820 1880
BoxFolder
411 1881-1906
12 1910-1911
13 1912-1913
BoxFolder
820 1916
BoxFolder
414 1916-1917
15 n.d.
BoxFolder
ob 1011Miscellaneous



 

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

BoxFolder
51 1879-1899
2 1900-1913
BoxFolder
821 1900-1915
BoxFolder
53 1914-1922
1923
BoxFolder
5, 84, 22 March
BoxFolder
55 April
6 May-June
7 July-September
BoxFolder
ob 111 1923-1924
BoxFolder
58 1924-1929
9 1930-1977
BoxFolder
ob 112 1937
BoxFolder
823 1942, n.d.
BoxFolder
510 n.d.
Box
9scrapbook, ca. 1900-1906



 

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

A. Personal Photographs, ca. 1860-1920
BoxFolder
61 ca. 1860,1 photo
2 ca. 1870,7 photos
3 3 photos, 2 prints ca. 1876,
4-10 33 photos ca. 1880,
11 Bernhardt with Lillie Langtry, 3 photos, 1 clipping ca. 1887,
12-13 13 photos, 1 clipping ca. 1890,
BoxFolder
824 1 photo ca. 1890,
BoxFolder
614 Bernhardt with Suzanne Seylor, 1 photo ca. 1896,
ca. 1900
BoxFolder
61515 items (6 images, 9 duplicates)
1610 items (3 images, 7 duplicates)
1740 items (1 image, 39 duplicates)
BoxFolder
7124 items (2 images, 22 duplicates)
BoxFolder
825 Bernhardt with Victorien Sardou, 1 clipping ca. 1903,
26 1 photo ca. 1904,
BoxFolder
7, ob 112, 3 Bernhardt in front of tent, 1 photo, 1 negative photo; 1 photo ca. 1906,
BoxFolder
73 Bernhardt with Harry Houdini, ca. 1910,15 items (3 images, 12 duplicates)
4-5 6 photos, 1 postcard, 3 clippings ca. 1910-1920,
BoxFolder
827 Bernhardt with manager, William Connors, 1 photo ca. 1911,
28 Bernhardt with Martin Beck, 2 photos ca. 1913,
BoxFolder
76 Bernhardt with company, 1 clipping ca. 1916,
7 Bernhardt with family, 2 photos ca. 1918,
BoxFolder
ob 114 Bernhardt on tour train, 1 photo n.d.,
B. Family and Other, n.d.
BoxFolder
78Bernard, Royal, 2 photos
9Bernhardt, Jeanne, 6 photos, 1 clipping
10Damala, Jacques, 1 photo
11Other people,2 clippings
12Bernhardt tent, 2 photos
13Belle Ile en Mer, 4 postcards
C. Ceremonies, ca. 1913-1914
BoxFolder
829-31 Wreath presentation, 12 photos ca. 1913,
32 Award in New York, 3 photos ca. 1913,
BoxFolder
714 Legion of Honor presentation, 1 clipping ca. 1914,
D. Miscellaneous, ca. 1903, n.d.
BoxFolder
7, ob 1115, 5Advertisements, 2 clippings; 3 clippings
BoxFolder
716Autograph, ca. 1903
BoxFolder
ob 116-7Bautier, Marguerite, sketch and mat
8Berger, Rene, print (Bernhardt as Tosca?)
BoxFolder
717Caricatures, 4 prints, 1 clipping
18Her Artistic Life 6 page copy of letter
Mucha, Alphonse
BoxFolder
833Sketch of Bernhardt as Medea
BoxFolder
7193 clippings of posters
Portraits
BoxFolder
7205 prints, 4 clippings
BoxFolder
8349 prints, 1 clipping
BoxFolder
ob 119-103 prints
BoxFolder
721Sculptures, 4 photos
Miscellaneous
BoxFolder
7222 items
BoxFolder
8351 print, 3 clippings



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