The First Woman of Color Photography: 33 Stunning Pics of the ’30s Beauties Taken by Madame Yevonde

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Born 1893 in London, English photographer was known as Madame Yevonde who pioneered the use of colour in portrait photography.

Yevonde was given a three-year apprenticeship with the portrait photographer Lallie Charles. With the technical grounding she received from working with him, and a gift of £250 from her father, at the age of 21, Yevonde set up her own studio at 92 Victoria Street, London, and began to make a name for herself by inviting well-known figures to sit for free.

By 1921, Madame Yevonde had become a well-known and respected portrait photographer, and moved to larger premises at 100 Victoria Street. Here she began taking advertising commissions and also photographed many of the leading personalities of the day, including A.A. Milne, Barbara Cartland, Diana Mitford, Louis Mountbatten and Noël Coward.

Color photography by by Madame Yevonde

In the early 1930s, Yevonde began experimenting with colour photography, using the new Vivex colour process from Colour Photography Limited of Willesden. In 1932 she put on an exhibition of portrait work at the Albany Gallery, half monochrome and half colour, to enthusiastic reviews.

Yevonde’s most famous work was inspired by a theme party held on 5 March 1935, where guests dressed as Roman and Greek gods and goddesses. Yevonde subsequently took studio portraits of many of the participants (and others), in appropriate costume and surrounded by appropriate objects.

This highly creative period of Yevonde’s career would only last a few years. At the end of 1939, Colour Photographs Ltd closed, and the Vivex process was no more. She returned to working in black and white, and produced many notable portraits.

Yevonde continued working up until her death in 1975, just two weeks short of her 83rd birthday, but is chiefly remembered for her work of the 1930s, which did much to make colour photography respectable.

These stunning color photographs of beautiful women are part of her work that Yevonde took in the 1930s.

Painting the RMS Queen Mary, circa early 1930s

Woman in evening gown, 1930

Joan Maude, 1932

Woman on couch, 1933

Greek gods and goddesses theme party, March 5th, 1935. Baroness Gagern as Europa

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