Sarah Bernhardt – A Different Look…Maybe…

On of the most famous actresses of the 19th Century was Sarah Bernhardt. Her career spanned the years from 1862 through 1922 and she performed both in Europe and America.

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Sarah Bernhardt as Cleopatra, 1891.

As with other major celebrities of the day, she lived a good part of her life in the public eye and people took note of what she wore both on and off stage. Designers made it a point to design clothes for actresses as a means of promoting their work and Sarah Bernhardt was no exception- Jacques Doucet and Paul Poiret designed various outfits for her.

But sometimes there are images that simply make one wonder. Below are two images from the Library of Congress that are allegedly of her:

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Sarah Bernhardt (alleged) as the “Ocean Empress,” c. 1880Library of Congress.

Above is a portrait of Sarah Bernhardt, supposedly, in a diving suit entitled “The Ocean Empress”. Below is another portrait from what appears to be the same event:

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Sarah Bernhardt (alleged) with unknown person, c. 1880 Library of Congress.

No doubt they were probably some sort of promotional pictures of some sort but beyond that we know little, at least in English. A curiosity, to be sure! And no, we are going to start making diving suits. 😉