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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt as Marguerite Gautier in 'La Dame aux Camélias'

1891
H. Walter Barnett and Falk Studios (publisher)

albumen silver photograph on cabinet card (image: 14.2 cm x 10.2 cm, sheet: 16.5 cm x 11 cm)

Born in Paris, Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923) was acclaimed as the greatest actor of her generation and had roles created for her by some of the finest writers of her age. A global superstar, she ultimately performed at least 70 roles in about 125 productions, appearing in countless countries, even Cuba and Samoa, and touring the USA alone nine times. H. Walter Barnett (1862–1934) was a leading portrait photographer of the late Victorian, Edwardian and interwar periods. He set up Falk Studios in Sydney in 1885, which became the leader in portraits of contemporary Australian stars of the stage and captured many celebrity visitors including Bernhardt. She sat for Barnett in Sydney in June 1891, while on a tour of Australia that saw her act in a total of twelve plays, including playing Marguerite Gautier in La Dame aux Camélias. She shared her suite at the Australia Hotel in Sydney with a menagerie of animals, including a koala, a possum and her St Bernard, which were presumably taken back to France. Barnett photographed Bernhardt in various roles here, and, for the last time, in London in 1910, by which time he was a huge photographic star.

Purchased 2020

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

H. Walter Barnett (age 29 in 1891)

Falk Studios

Sarah Bernhardt (age 47 in 1891)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Related information

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Sarah Bernhardt, 1910 by Walter Barnett
Sarah Bernhardt, 1910 by Walter Barnett
Sarah Bernhardt, 1910 by Walter Barnett
Sarah Bernhardt, 1910 by Walter Barnett

Legends

The Art of Walter Barnett 1862-1934

Previous exhibition, 2001

A National Portrait Gallery travelling exhibition.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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