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Maude Adams
by David for group historicalziegfeld Oct 23, 2010

She was perhaps the most remarkable mimetic artist on the American stage early in the 20th century, capable of embodying creatures not human, androgynes, matrons, girls, and the kind of new woman that champions of suffrage and equal rights envisioned as the future of the gender. She was James Barrie's Peter Pan. She was the banyard fowl, Chanticler. There was a kind of quicksilver nimbleness of wit--an intuitive tact--that made her the best sort of stage partner, capable of working in the instant of the performance to invoke uncanny moods. She was photographed by everyone, from Weston to the mysterious female camera artist who masqueraded as male, W. Coleman of Providence R.I. The serious of shots under the credit of the Albany Art Union were probably taken by Frank E. Geisler. Her fellow actor, Burr McIntosh did the four images from L'Aiglon. George Moffett of Chicago considered her the finest of posers and would shoot her for free just for the delight of having so imaginative a sitter. These images only hint at the enormous range of her capacity to inhabit different characters. David S. Shields

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  • historicalzg - 1Reply
    studiolymar wrote on Oct 23, '10
    Very professional lady, thanks for sharing

    toddlyman wrote on Nov 14, '10
    I have a painting of Maude Adams as Peter Pan that we believe is the work of George de Forest Brush, though it is signed strongly and with considerable flourish with the name... BEST. I spent a great many hours at the New York Public Library's Lincoln Center branch, going through the theater collection, and many more hours deep in the catacombs of the Museum of the City of New York. going through the papers of Ms. Adams and Charles Frohman.

    It is my theory that the painting was done as a journeyman piece for cash, commissioned and paid for by Frohman, with all the connections made by Homer Saint Gaudens, who was the son of Augustus Saint Gaudens. Homer and was a lifelong friend of Brush's, who was central to Augustus' Cornish Artists' Colony, Young Homer was also Ms. Adams' dresser for many years.

    I believe the BEST signature is a ribbing from Frohman to the editor of The Century magazine, Richard Watson Gilder, who had employed a Russian court trained painter, Ivanowski, to do a series of paintings of actresses, Maude Adams as Peter Pan among them, for publication in The Century. Both paintings are done from the same photo, copies of other poses from that particular Maude Adams / Peter Pan photo shoot are on file at the NYPL Theater Collection. I have not seen these photos used anywhere else in any of the many Adams / Pan items I've tracked down over the years... so perhaps the shots were done specific to Gilder's Ivanowski painting... with Frohman throwing in a little razzberry to his good friend Gilder by having Brush, a renowned American painter at that time, knock out another at the same time... and springing it on him?

    I AM looking for any interior photos that show this painting on the wall. I would love to place it in an incontrovertible place and time, once and for all.

    I had the painting professionally shot a few years ago, and will load up a much reduced digital file of it in the future.

    Todd Kimmell
    Mermaid Lane Studios
    Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia

    profdash wrote on Nov 14, '10
    Todd: I would be interested in seeing a digital image of the painting. Joseph Byron was the specialist in interior shots of performers' homes. I'll hunt around to see if I can track down an interior view of either Frohman's or Adams's domiciles. David

    toddlyman wrote on Nov 15, '10
    David, I have reduced the resolution on the photo of the painting to 100 dpi. I will also include mock ups we did of LIFE magazine and the NY Times magazine section covers, featuring this painting. Note that it is in its original frame, and the painting and frame are in reality darker than you see here... both needing and deserving a professional cleaning, which I don't want to do until we've gotten real documentation. I worked very hard trying to get this painting out of obscurity in time for the 100 anniversary in 2005, and my adventures, misadventures, fabulous discoveries and spectacular failures are so full of twists and turn it will make a great slide lecture.

    The audience will, of course, see many of the disastrous missteps in my quest, and there will be plenty of "don't open that door!" sort of shrieks and groans from them, but there are also so many blind side gotchas and sparkling serendipitous moments as treasures were revealed...

    At that time we meant to sell it, and the potential buyers included Michael Jackson, Johnny Depp, Ellen DeGeneneres, Madonna, and a surprising number of other Hollywood A List performers and financiers who have a direct or indirect connection to or interest in Peter Pan or Maude Adams. You can add to that a couple of prominent Mormon billionaires. For now, and perhaps forever, it hangs, much beloved, in our living room.

    Please let me know where you want the images sent. You may load them here, if you like, and I will also use them when I get around to loading up my Maude Adams collection on this site. Reach me at todd@mermaidlanestudios.com

    Todd Kimmell
    Mermaid Lane Studios
    Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia

    studiolymar wrote on Nov 15, '10
    Hi there, thank you for the story about the painting aso. Although far away from my country i always was interested in pictures and stories about famous American actresses and dancers in those early day's of photography and as a photographer myself i always wonders how they setup their lighting in the studio's considering the fact that strobe-lights must still be invented.
    ( i will apologize for writing fault's because English is not my native language )
    Greetings from Belgium
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