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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Mme. Alda: 1909

Mme. Alda: 1909

"Alda relaxing at home." The soprano Frances Alda in 1909, a year before she married Metropolitan Opera manager Giulio Gatti-Casazza. She was said to have "a temper as red as her hair." George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

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Kyoto Silk Kimono

The beautifully embroidered peacock-in-a-garden kimono resembles Japanese wedding kimonos in its luxury, but was probably made specifically for export. During the late Meiji Period (1890s to 1912) much of this high-end embroidery, as well as silk tapestry panels with similar garden scenes, was made in Kyoto to supply the Western demand for beautiful "Oriental" textiles. Pictorial arrangements of exotic birds and flowers like that on Mme. Alda's kimono were derived by the Kyoto designers from 18th Century Chinese scroll paintings. Many of these robes and textiles were sold by Japanese importers at the many world's fairs between 1893 (Chicago) and 1915 (San Francisco and San Diego).

The San Diego Museum of Art has in its collection a very similar "peacock" kimono that was presented in 1910 as a state gift to the wife of an American diplomat. Unlike Mme. Alda's kimono, which is of white satin, the SDMA example was embroidered on pink creped silk, and definitely was used by the diplomat's wife as an "At Home" lounging robe in social rituals such as receiving her female friends for afternoon tea.

Stunning Kimono

This appears to be ceremonial kimono, probably for a wedding. Oh, to have color! Very fashionable in this period but rarely so ornate (or nearly as expensive). Any experts out there who can tell us more?

[Used as a dressing gown, it would be for ceremonial lounging. - Dave]

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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