Doublé Faux Pas ?

Day 197 of Colourisation Project – November 20

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

Today’s image is a wonderful photo taken circa 1910 of Tamara Karsavina, a Russian prima ballerina.  Renowned for her beauty, she was a Principal Artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and later of the Ballets Russes (Russian Ballet) of Serge Diaghilev.

She migrated from Russia after the revolution of 1917 with her English diplomat husband, Henry James Bruce, and settled in London, where she began teaching ballet professionally.  Karsavina’s contribution and indeed legacy to the world of ballet lies in the fact that she was one of the founders of modern British ballet. She assisted in the establishment of The Royal Ballet, and was a founding member of the Royal Academy of Dance, which is now the world’s largest dance-teaching organisation.

Tamara Karsavina

Photographer: Bertram Park – Tamara Karsavina – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

All very impressive but that’s not why she is today’s feature colourisation subject. A few days ago I did a story on Vera Karalli, another famous Russian ballerina of the Bolshoi Theatre, and the Ballets Russes. Hers was a fascinating story of Imperial court intrigue and involved her implication in the death of the notorious monk, Grigori Rasputin of Russia. When I set about finding an image of Vera to colourise, the wonderful image you see on today’s blog kept popping up. I was delighted that I had found a relatively good quality image to colourise. So I spent some good time colourising it.

Labelled ‘Vera Karalli.jpg’, I didn’t think to question its veracity. It is an image that already appears on many blogs and websites, especially Russian ones about Vera Karalli, claiming it to be a portrait of Vera. After completing my colourisation, I went back to ascertain the details of the image so I could give proper credit to it. On further research however I came across the same image at the National Portrait Gallery of London website, claiming it was someone else. Founded in 1856, this Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. They could have it wrong, right?  Yes, but not likely!

You can imagine my frustration when I discovered that the image was in fact of Tamara Karsavina and not Vera. So back to the drawing board I went for another colourisation. Today’s image was shot by Royal photographer, Bertram Park sometime in the 1910s.

Moral to the story? Do your due diligence. Don’t take everything at face value.

Anyway I was going to do a story on Leo Tolstoy today (he died 104 years ago today) but his life and history is just about as long as his masterpiece War and Peace, so I opted for Tamara today as the the job was already half done.


“Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher.”   – Buddha

“Diligence is the mother of good fortune.”   –  Miguel de Cervantes

This entry was posted in Colorization, Colourisation, Dance, Photography, russia, Uncategorized, Women and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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