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‘Living Pictures’ at the Empire Theatre, Leicester Square, London, 1894: Marie Studholme, Constance Collier and Hetty Hamer as the Three Graces

April 19, 2014

Marie Studholme (1872-1930), Constance Collier (1878-1955) and Hetty Hamer (active 1890-1910), English actresses, as ‘The Three Graces’ among the ‘Living Pictures,’ first presented at the Empire Theatre, Leicester Square, London, on Monday evening, 5 February 1894.
(photo: W. & D. Downey, London, 1894; published as a postcard by The Rotary Photographic Co Ltd., Rotary Photographic Series, no. 351 B, London, about 1902)

‘An addition to the Empire programme was made last night, when a series of ”Living Pictures” was presented. The back of the stage was focussed down to a large gilt frame, in which the pictures were set, the figures of the various subjects being embodied by several ladies. The first, ”Courtship,” showed a pretty couple (Misses Sheppard and Deroy), dressed in the Directoire style, leading over a rustic bride, amid the freshness of the Springtime. The next with ”Night,” in which Miss Hetty Hamer and Miss [Constance] Collier, two white-draped figures crowned with electric stars, were reclining amid Doré-like surroundings of jagged, tapering peaks against a mystic blue background. ”Duet” was a piece of marble statuary delicately tinted with changing lights that swept over the motionless figures (Madame Fionde and Miss Blowey). ”A Funny Song” was as glowing in colour as if fresh from the brush of the painter, and the expression of the three figures (Senorita Candida and Messrs [William] Lewington and [C.] Perkins) was admirable. One of the prettiest dealt with the old subject, ”Loves me! Loves me not,” in the familiar way, but in a bright Italian atmosphere, and with the blue sea as a background, the perfect taste of the accessories increasing the personal charm of the performers, Miss Marie Studholme and Miss Barker. Miss Deroy made a fascinating picture as a girl ascending an old staircase (the warm colours of her dress blending in complete harmony with the oaken wainscotting), and bidding a sweet ”Good-night.” Miss Hetty Hamer was another bright figure in ”Pets,” a Greek girl feeding pigeons in a corner of some secret grove. ”The Billet-doux” was placed in the powder and patches days, a young beau indulging in a moment’s flirtation with the maid, who is about to take his missive to her mistress (the Misses Belton and Hill). ”Springtime” was a poetic conception of the ”Sweetness of the year.” So charming was the grace of the young girl (Miss Hinde), dreamily resting among the branches of a pink-blossomed almond tree, that the audience vainly tried to interrupt the progress of the series in order to gaze again at the dainty sight. ”Charity,” in which Senorita Candida and Miss Deroy appear, is a somewhat conventional subject, representing a benevolent patrician offering her fur cloak to a homeless wanderer as shelter against the falling snow. ”The Three Graces” needs no further explanation, when it is said that the Misses Hetty Hamer, Collier, and Marie Studholme formed the trio. The series was concluded by a study in bronze, ”The Defence of the Flag,” portraying a vigorous patriotic group; but several of the favourites had to be repeated before the audience was satisfied. Excellent alike in conception, mouthing, and representation, the ”Living Pictures” at the Empire will prove a strong attraction.”
(The Standard, London, Tuesday, 6 February 1894, p. 3c)

Tableaux Vivants at the EMPIRE. A noticeable addition has been made to the programme at the EMPIRE Theatre, which promises to crown the house for some time. Never behindhand when anything savouring of novelty is I the air, the management have now introduced a series of ”Living Pictures,” produced in the style which has long been familiar to pleasure-seekers in France, Germany, and Russia. Similar representations have, of course, been given in London, but of the EMPIRE tableaux there is only this to be said: they are as well done, as richly and effectively mounted as is possible, with no suggestion of tinsel or tawdriness. The dramatis personæ are the Misses Hetty Hamer, Marie Studholme, Sheppard, Deroy, Collier, Blowey, Madame Fionde, Señorita Candida, and Messrs. Lewington and Perkins. The ”Living Pictures” meet with a good reception nightly, and it will be a pity of they do not remain in the programme for a long time to come.’
(The Graphic, London, Saturday, 10 February 1894, p. 151b//c)

Whereas Mesdames Studhome, Collier and Hamer were then actresses or members of the chorus at the Gaiety and Prince of Wales’s Theatres in London, all the others mentioned in connection with the ‘Living Pictures’ were ballet dancers or pantomimists employed at the Empire Theatre, Leicester Square. All were then under contract to the impresario George Edwardes.

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