Vera Karalli – Black Swan?

Day 193 of Colourisation Project – November 16

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Born in Moscow in 1889, Vera Alexeyevna Karalli was a famous Russian ballerina of the Bolshoi Theatre, and the Ballets Russes (Russian Ballet) led by Sergei Diaghilev. She was also one of Russia’s first and most popular silent film actresses during the early years of the 20th century.

Photographer unknown – Vera Karalli – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Dubbed a ‘femme fatale’ due to her notorious love affairs with prominent men, including famous Russian operatic singer Leonid Sabinov and choreographer and instructor Alexander Gorsky, Karalli was also mistress to the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich Romanov of Russia, (Tzar Nicholas II’s cousin), one of the few members of the Romanov family to escape with his life after the Russian Revolution.

Unfortunately Karalli’s reputation was tainted with the blood of the notorious Grigori Rasputin, known as the Mad Monk of Russia.  Along with her lover, Pavlovich, Karalli was allegedly one of the conspirators who plotted the bungled 1916 murder of Rasputin. She reputedly was one of two women present in the palace of Felix Yussupov on the night of Rasputin’s murder although the male co-conspirators never publicly identified the two women.

Shortly after, following the October Revolution, she was forced to flee to the West, where she lived out her life teaching ballet in Lithuania, Bucharest, Paris and Vienna up until her death in 1972.

Vera Karalli died this day, November 16, 1972 in Baden, Austria at the age of 83.


Vera Karalli shot to international fame for her role of Gizella, the mute dancer in the 1917   Russian silent film, The Dying Swan, a haunting melodrama directed by Evgeni Bauer and music, Le Cygne (The Swan) by Camille Saint-Saëns.

Some critics considered it a better performance than Anna Pavlova’s from an artistic point of view. You can judge for yourselves. Enjoy!


This entry was posted in Colorization, Colourisation, Dance, Film and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Vera Karalli – Black Swan?

  1. Pingback: Doublé Faux Pas ? | Random Phoughts

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