Madame Yevonde (1893 − 1975)

Madame Yevonde was the professional name of Yevonde Cumbers, who was born in Streatham, south London in 1893 to a prosperous family. She enjoyed a childhood full of visits to the theatre, costume parties and a busy social calendar. When she was sixteen Yevonde was sent to a convent school in Belgium and bored with her studies discovered the Suffragette Movement, which was to become one of the greatest passions of her life. On her return to Britain she initially threw herself into working for the movement but soon realised that she lacked sufficient strength of will to devote her life to the cause although she was convinced that 'to be independent was the greatest thing in life' and set out to find a career which would provide her with complete financial and professional independence. Inspired by a newspaper advertisement for an assistant in a top London photographic studio she decided, aged seventeen, to become a photographer. Indicative of the role that photography would play later in her life, she rejected an opportunity to work with Lena Connell, the veteran photographer of the Suffragette Movement, favouring instead the leading society photographer of the day, Lallie Charles.

Yevonde worked in Lallie Charles's Curzon Street studio for a year, learning how to handle aristocratic and sophisticated clients, constructing fictional worlds of glamour and beauty to satisfy their desires. She was now eager for more practical experience and was transferred to 'the Works', where she learnt how to spot and retouch prints.

In 1914, realising that Lallie Charles's heyday was over and that her romantic Edwardian treatment of women as submissive objects of beauty no longer reflected the new aspirations of women, Yevonde decided to set up on her own. She persuaded her father to provide the capital and rented an inexpensive studio in Victoria, working under the title 'Madame Yevonde - Portrait Photographer'. She understood the time was right to create a more contemporary approach to studio portraiture, with a variety of poses and backgrounds and the business flourished despite rival competition.

Madame Yevonde Be Original or Die, The British Council 1998

www.madameyevonde.com

Glossary

  • Contemporary

    Existing or coming into being at the same period; of today or of the present. The term that designates art being made today.

Past exhibitions

MY CHOICE WORKS SELECTED BY PAULA REGO FROM THE BRITISH COUNCIL COLLECTION

  • 2011
    • Portugal, Coimbra, Univesidade de Coimbra, Casa de Caldeiras
    • Portugal, Edp Foundation
    • Portugal, Cascais, Casa Das Historias

FALL OUT: WAR AND CONFLICT IN THE BRITISH COUNCIL COLLECTION

  • 2010
    • UK, Canterbury, Sidney Cooper Gallery
    • UK, London, Whitechapel Art Gallery

THRESHOLDS

  • 2012
    • Macedonia, Skopje, Museum Of Contemporary Art
    • Malta, Valletta, St James Cavalier Centre For Creativity
  • 2010
    • UK, London, Whitechapel Art Gallery

THE DARK MONARCH: MAGIC AND MODERNITY IN BRITISH ART

  • 2010
    • UK, Eastbourne, Towner Art Gallery And Museum
  • 2009
    • UK, St Ives, Tate St Ives

APOLLONIA ARTS FESTIVAL 2007

  • 2007
    • Bulgaria, Sozopol, Old Town Art Gallery

BE ORIGINAL OR DIE PHOTOGRAPHS BY MADAME YEVONDE

  • 2005
    • Sweden, Stockholm, Kulturhuset
  • 2004
    • Estonia, Tartu, Tartu University History Musueum's White
    • Norway, Bergen, Gallery 3.14
    • Estonia, Tallinn, Rotermann Salt Storage
    • Lithuania, Dailes Galerija
    • Lithuania, Siauliai, Dailes Galerija
    • Lithuania, Klaipeda, Parodu Rumai
  • 2003
    • Lithuania, Vilnius, Prospekto Gallery
    • Czech Republic, Brno, House Of Artists
  • 2002
    • Germany, Wolfsburg Kunstmuseum
    • Slovakia, Bratislava, Month Of Photography
    • Romania, Bucharest, Art Gallery Simone
    • Slovakia, Banska Bystrica, National Gallery
    • Slovakia, Poprad, House Of Photography
    • Slovakia, Kosice, Slovak Technical Museum
    • Slovakia, Poprad, House Of Photography
    • Poland, Lodz, Galeria FF
    • Poland, Krakow, Muzeum Historii Fotografii
    • Poland, Katowice, Galeria Pusta
  • 2001
    • Poland, Poznan, Centrum Kultury Zamek
    • Austria, Innsbruck, Fotoforum West
    • Italy, Venice, Civic Museum Of Venice
    • Spain, Madrid, Circulo De Bellas Artes
  • 2000
    • Spain, Tenerife, Centro De Fotografia
    • Spain, Seville, Sala Imagem
    • Spain, Jerez, Sala Caja De San Fernando
    • Spain, Santiago De Compostela, Museo Do Poblo Galego
  • 1999
    • Germany, Munich, Museum Villa Stuck
    • Brazil, Brasilia, Mezanino Do Foyer Da Sala Villa Lobos
    • Brazil, Museu De Arte Moderna Aloisio Magalhaes
    • Brazil, Sao Paulo, Museu Da Imagem E Do Son
    • Brazil, Curitiba, Museu Metropolitan De Arte
    • Brazil, Rio De Janeiro, Centro Cultural Banco Do Brasil
    • Mexico, Anglo-Mexican Institute
  • 1998
    • Argentina, Santa Fe, Direccion De Cultura
    • Argentina, Mendoza, Museo De Arte Moderno
    • Argentina, Rosario, Centro Cultural Parque Espana
    • Argentina, Buenos Aires, Fotogaleria Teatro General San Martin
    • Peru, Lima, Peruvian British Cultural Association
    • Venezuela, Caracas, Museo De Arts Contemporaneo, SOFIA IMBER
    • Chile, Santiago, New Art Centre
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