I like the style of Madame Yevonde’s work because I think that the photographs encapsulate both realism and surrealism simultaneously. This particular interest in Goddesses is really dynamic as subjects and conventions of everyday life are in complete comparisons to these quirky and mysterious myths. The images have inner-meaning and are more dense than they first appear and really tell a story. People are really effective subjects and allow the viewer to be drawn in especially with the use of eyes in the Medusa image. I also like Madame Yevonde’s work because of her use of props and background, which really makes the photographs more visually stimulating and comprehendible and also allow us to follow a narrative.
About Madame Yevonde Madame Yevonde born 1893 - who’s real name is Yevonde Middleton, was an English photographer who was most well-known for her use of colour in portrait photography. When Middleton first obtained her own studio she invited people (well-known) to sit for free while she worked her magic. When she first began, her work was used in magazines however, her style quickly changed and she wanted to be creative (her subjects often looked away from the camera and she used effective props). Yevonde pioneered colour photography; in the 1930’s she started experimenting using the new Vivex (colour photography process invented by the professional photographer Dr. D. A. Spencer). Because a lot of people were used to black and white images their reaction to her work was some what hostile. Madame Yevonde’s most famous work (Goddesses/Greek Mythology) were inspired by a theme party held on March 5, 1935 where her guests dressed up as Greek Gods and Goddesses. She cleverly took studio portraits of people with appropriate costumes and backgrounds to match – this opportunity allowed Middleton to be creative and show the use of colour, props and costumes. She furthered the theme of myths and Greek Mythology with her work she produced of signs of the Zodiac and the months of the year. Yevonde was particularly influenced by Man-Ray (painter and photographer), as she noticed the use of juxtaposition and surrealism; this worked in her favour and showed her sense of humour. After the death of her husband ‘Edgar Middleton’ (playwright) she returned to black and white photography as Colour Photography Ltd. Closed (1939). She continued working up to her death at the age of 82 and will always be known for her 1930’s colour photography era.
Mary, Viscountess Ratendone as Euterpe This is one of my favourite images as I think it is really dramatic and the facial expression shows emotion and thoughts. The picture consists of a woman wearing a black dress holding a flute with both hands. She is wearing red lipstick and starring into the distance with flowers (large daisies) in her short black hair. She’s also wearing a ring of her wedding finger but on her right hand. The back ground is plain and neutral. The image is really dramatic and dynamic as the colours are really well balanced; the light background contrasts with the dark hair and clothes of the woman and this makes her stand out. The image is clear with no clutter which allows you to concentrate on the main subject.
The little colour that appears (the yellow centre of the daisies and the red lipstick and nail polish) stand out and are really attractive. The main subject is placed to the right, the photo follows the rule of thirds as she is in the bottom-right intersection and not directly in the middle. The white background acts as a frame to the dark colours on the subject and the edge of the dress and her shoulder lead your eyes to her face. I think that the meaning of this photograph is to show the woman’s emotions and I think this reveals that she’s not happy, she appears either confused or sad. The flute which is holding makes me think that she’s lonely and is playing music to keep her self occupied, the dull background also shows this (there’s no one else around) and the weeding ring on the wrong hand suggests she either hasn’t found love, or she’s lost her lover. The picture also represents nature this is shown by the daisies in her hair and the majority of neutral colours we can see. The fact that she’s looking away is significant and more dramatic which makes the image dynamic and interesting.