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Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923)

Autoportrait en Chimere signed & dated 1880

RCIN 7275

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The French actress Sarah Bernhardt practised sculpture and painting alongside her better-known skills on the stage. This bronze depicts her as a chimera, or sphinx, possibly as a comment on her best-known role by this date, Berthe de Savigny in Octave Feuillet's Sphinx. The use of a mythological creature is also an allusion to her exaggeratedly dramatic stage roles and aspects of her personal life. This bronze was likely presented to the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra by the actress, as a token of the friendship which developed during her first London appearances.

No. 119