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A Vandamm Postcard from London


Before leaving London in 1923, Florence Vandamm photographed Sybil Thorndike in at least five additional roles. Thorndike was known for her ability to play comedy and tragedy, so there was a wide range. She appeared in the suffrage play Jane Clegg for Edith Craig's Pioneer Players, 1922, reminding her audience that conditions remained despite the political victory. Thorndike also played in and presented modern comedies, such as Advertising April in 1923.

Sybil Thorndike, Digital ID th-57676, New York Public LibraryPostcard by Florence Vandamm and, searching under Vandamm, see some of her rare fashion-only photos for articles on people, shawls, and children's clothes.Theater promotional postcards were re-emerging after World War I restrictions on dark room materials. Vandamm images had been used in postcards a early as 1913 with an image of cellist Felix Salmond. Her portraits of Thorndike in a contemporary reform gown were turned into a postcard series, issued by Rotary Photographic Series. She is wearing a contemporary reform-type gown. It could be a costume, but not for either Jane Clegg, where she plays an older character, nor Advertising April, which was a farce and her character more fashionably dressed. Nor Medea. There is a larger set in the Sybil Thorndike Papers, at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and this example here in the Billy Rose Theatre Division.

The postcard image could also be fashion photography. Vandamm is famous now, for costume designers and historians, and then, for the clarity of her documentation of clothing, fabric and, especially, seaming. You can drape from her photographs of Valentina and Charles James designs. In the years during which she was photographing Thorndike's emotional portrayals, she was providing fashion shots for Conde Nast's Vogue. You can access the Vogue Archive onsite at NYPL.

When the Vandamms settled in New York, she was able to take her Conde Nast contacts and segue into New York Vogue's primary supplier of theater images.


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Jane Clegg produced by Edith Craig for the Pioneer Players?

I'm interested in the reference to a production by Edith Craig for the Pioneer Players of the play Jane Clegg. Could you provide more information on this? Could this be a production by Craig for the Everyman Theatre, Hampstead?

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