With over four hundred works, the exhibition of the Petit Palais traces the life and theatrical career of this “sacred monster”, as Jean Cocteau dubbed her. A legendary performer of the greatest roles from Racine, Shakespeare, Edmond Rostand and Alexandre Dumas fils, among others, Sarah Bernhardt went from triumph to triumph in theatres all over the world.
The exhibition evokes her greatest roles through the costumes she wore on stage, photographs, paintings, posters and other memorabilia. Her “golden voice” and her tall, slender figure – unusual in those days – held the public in thrall, as well as the artistic and literary world, who simply venerated her. She was the friend of painters such as Gustave Doré, Georges Clairin, Louise Abbéma, and Alphonse Mucha, but also of writers like Victor Hugo, Victorien Sardou and Sacha Guitry, as well as musicians and composers like Reynaldo Hahn.
She was an artist herself, and an entire section of the exhibition focuses on this lesser-known aspect of her life. Photographs, paintings and even a film reveal the private side of her art, but also the publicity she sought for her work as an artist.
A number of objects that belonged to her also illustrate Sarah Bernhardt’s personal life and her taste for eccentricity: her various homes, her lavish, eclectic interiors and her wardrobe. Sarah Bernhardt can be regarded as a genuine star before her time, constantly on the look-out for new trends and using her image for her own publicity. The frenzy of popular emotion that greeted her death in 1923, at the age of 79, anticipated the cult following of the great film stars of the 20th century.
Public et Horaire
- Enfant / Adolescent
Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris
Tél : 01 53 43 40 00
Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm.
Open Friday and Saturday until 8pm.
Full rate : 15€
Concessions : 13€
- Enfant / Adolescent
Annick Lemoine, director of the Petit Palais
Cécilie Champy, Director of the Musée Zadkine, Stéphanie Cantarutti, curator for 19th century paintings at the Petit Palais
Portrait de Sarah Bernhardt par Georges Clairin, Huile sur toile, 1876© Paris Musées / Petit Palais
Sarah Bernhardt, Photographie de W&D Downey Photographers , BNF, Estampes et photographies © BNF