Sarah Bernhardt – The Sculptor


"After the Storm" by Sarah Bernhardt 1876

Sarah Bernhardt is most widely known for her abilities as an actress during the 19th century and developed quite a reputation in that arena. What I was surprised to learn about her today was that she was quite skilled as a sculptor. She took up this interest around 1869 and was encouraged by Mathieu Meusnier who recognized her gifts in this area. Bernhardt was drawn to take up this other artform as she had become "discouraged and disgusted" with the theater, although she didn't walk away from it entirely.

"Death of Ophelia" by Sarah Bernhardt

In 1880 she did a bas relief called "Death of Ophelia". Some six years later in a Paris theater Ms. Bernhardt was cast as Ophelia in a play by Hamlet, which was a long held ambition of the actress. It's written that Ms. Bernhardt had an obsession with death and sexuality that stemmed from childhood. One can pick up on this theme through much of her work. To wrap up, "After the Storm" at the top, was an ambitious piece that Ms. Bernhardt submitted to the Salon de Paris where it received Honorable Mention. The sculpture was inspired by a personal experience with a woman she crossed paths with along the shore. There's so much more to read about her. Here's one link for more highlights CLICK

Bernhardt posing with palette

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