Sarah Bernhardt: The Art of High Drama  15 June 2007

From 15 June until 16 September 2007, in the Jewish Historical Museum, the exhibition Sarah Bernhardt: The Art of High Drama will go on display. This exhibition focuses on the life and work of the famous French actress who was the first international superstar. In the course of her career, "The Divine Sarah" turned out to be the most important tragedienne of her time. Her very name became synonymous with acting, stirring the imaginations of people around the world - even today.

The exhibition in the JHM displays more than 150 magnificent objects that portray her life, celebrity and theatrical style, but also the fashion, taste and politics of the "fin de siècle". Besides paintings, photos, costumes and well-known Art Nouveau posters by Alphonse Mucha, the exhibition includes personal mementos, a recording of her voice and a selection from the films she made.

Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) was the daughter of a Dutch-Jewish courtesan in Paris. She played major roles in the French theaters including the Comédie-Française. Touring with her own theater troupe, she went on to capture a place on the international stage. Her performances in America, Australia, Great Britain and Russia - as well as Egypt, Turkey and Tahiti -made her world famous. On several occasions, Bernhardt also appeared in the Netherlands.

Bernhardt, born five years after the invention of photography, was a pioneer in using modern technologies to disseminate her image. In her era, she was probably the most photographed woman in the world and the public was familiar with Bernhardt from lithographic posters of her displayed on the street. She lent her name to products such as LU biscuits and liquor. The attention she managed to generate around her public personality was unheard of for that time. She was the first great stage actress to achieve success on the silver screen.

Sarah Bernhardt: The Art of High Drama is based on an exhibition organized by The Jewish Museum, New York. This major loan exhibition was realized with the generous participation of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Along with the Sarah Bernhardt exhibition, in its Print Room, the JHM will display never before seen work by the Dutch artist Charlotte Salomon (1917-1943). These are studies Salomon made for her famous masterpiece Life? or Theatre?.

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