Anna Pavlova – Super star of the Belle Époque

Figure 1 - Anna Pavlova with her swan Jack at Ivy House 1905. Credit Lafayette Photography Studios London. In the public domain in the United States because of its age.

Figure 1 – Anna Pavlova with her swan Jack at Ivy House 1905. Credit Lafayette Photography Studios London. In the public domain in the United States because of its age.

You have to admit that one of the fun aspects of web-surfing is the discovery of the unexpected. Yesterday as I was doing some further reading and searching about Jack London and his circle, I came across the amazing photograph of Figure 1. This is the great ballerina Anna Pavlova (1881 – 1931). She is most famous today for her performances of Le cygne from The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns. I have in the past posted a video clip of her performance as the dying swan.

Pavlova was a great animal lover, and she was often photographed with her animals. Yet here is something quite unique. She kept live swans and her swan Jacks was quite friendly and well cuddly towards her. This picture, I believe, was taken by the famous Lafayette Photographic Studio of London at Pavlova’s home “Ivy House” in 1905.

It is a wonderfully sensitive photograph that captures not only the beauty of Pavlova and Jack but also the close intimacy of their relationship. And beyond that we can hear Saint-Saëns’ music, the sweet dance of the cello. This is a still and silent photograph but there is great motion and music in it.

This entry was posted in History of Photography.