by Tito Corbella

Art Noveau woman in poster advertising the silent film version of the play Tosca.

For 13 years before Giacomo Puccini introduced Tosca as an opera in 1900, the work was known to the public as a romantic tragedy written for Sara Bernhardt by Victorien Sardou. Here, for the silent film version of the play, we have a heroine, who looks very Bo-Peepish in comparison to the operas knife-wielding prima donna. Framed by weeping willow branches and holding a beribboned staff, she wears high heels and a a costume that hardly dates from 1800 when the play supposedly takes place. With brown ringlets and heavy-lidded eyes, her face is rendered in much more detail than the rest of the design-possibly because I is meant to be a portrait of the unnamed star. Rare.

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