Constance Collier as Pallas Athene

Artist:Charles Buchel
Medium:Oil on Board
Dimensions:Sight Size 11" x 14" Framed 17 1/2" x 20 1/2"
Original Use:Fine Art
Full View

Full View

The artist's signature and frame detail

The artist's signature and frame detail

This original 1912 oil on board features actress Constance Collier as Pallas Athene in the Beerbohm Tree production of Ulysses. This stylized art nouveau depiction in the pre-Raphaelite aesthetic was by the well listed artist Charles Buchel and a similar illustration of the actress by Buchel hangs in the London Victoria & Albert museum. Buchel was a prolific versatile artist who depicted Edwardian and Victorian actors and actresses in period stage costumes. He designed numerous theatre programs and period postcards depicting dramatic scenes. Comes ready to hang in a fine period gesso ornate frame.

Framed view in ornate period gesso frame

Framed view in ornate period gesso frame

Charles Buchel 1872-1950 was born Karl August Büchel,as a theatre enthusiast Buchel depicted the actresses and actors of the late Victorian and early Edwardian era, often in stage costume. Some of his oil paintings can today be found at the National Portrait Gallery in London. He illustrated theatre programmes, posters and stage magazines. His poster illustrations were published as advertising postcards for the associated stage production.

The late Victorian and early Edwardian era was one in which many successful actors (and actresses) were also managers of their own theatre or production company and would commission artists such as Buchel to promote their productions and performances.

Examples of Chas Buchel work can be found as original oils, as early 1900's posters and postcards, in children's books of the era, and so on. Everything from Gilbert and Sullivan to Peter Pan.

Constance Collier (January 22, 1878 — May 21, 1955) was a British-born American film actress and acting coach.

Born Laura Constance Hardie, in Windsor, Berkshire, Collier made her stage debut at the age of 3, when she played Fairy Peasblossom in A Midsummer's Night Dream. In 1893, at the age of 15, she joined the Gaiety Girls, the famous dance troupe based at the Gaiety Theatre in London. She was a very beautiful woman and soon became so tall that she towered over all the other dancers. In addition, she had an enormous personality and considerable determination. She naturally attracted considerable attention. On December 27, 1906, Beerbohm Tree's extravagant revival of Antony and Cleopatra opened at His Majesty's Theatre, with Tree as Mark Antony and Constance Collier as Cleopatra, a performance for which she received much critical praise.

Famed for his realistic productions, Tree and his designer, Percy Macquoid, dressed Collier in a range of spectacular costumes. Later, Constance Collier commented: "There is only a mention in the play of Cleopatra appearing as the goddess Isis. Tree elaborated this into a great tableau... Cleopatra, robed in silver, crowned in silver, carrying a golden scepter and the symbol of the sacred golden calf in her hand, went in procession through the streets of Alexandria, the ragged, screaming populace acclaiming the Queen, half in hate, half in superstitious fear and joy as she made her sacrilegious ascent to her high throne in the market-place."

Constance Collier was now established as a popular and distinguished actress. In January 1908, she starred with Beerbohm Tree at His Majesty's Theatre in J. Comyn's new play The Mystery of Edwin Drood, based on Charles Dickens's unfinished novel of the same name. Later that year, she made the first of several tours of the United States. During the second, made with Beerbohm Tree in 1916, she made four silent films, including an uncredited appearance in D. W. Griffith's Intolerance and as Lady Macbeth in Tree's first and disastrous film interpretation of Shakespeare's MacBeth.

In 1905, Collier married Irish actor Julian Boyles (stage name Julian Le'Estrange). They performed together for many years until his untimely death in 1918 in New York from influenza.

In the early 1920s, she established a close friendship with Ivor Novello, who was then a young, handsome actor. His first play, The Rat, was written in collaboration with her in 1924. She also appeared in several plays with him, including the British version of the American success, The Firebrand by Edwin Justus Mayer. In 1935, upon her arrival in Hollywood, Luise Rainer hired Collier to improve Rainer's theater acting and English, and to learn the basics of film acting.

She appeared in the films Stage Door (1937), Mitchell Leisen's Kitty (1945, a comedic performance as Lady Susan, the drunken sister of Ray Milland),Perils of Pauline with Betty Hutton, Alfred Hitchcock's Rope (1948), and Otto Preminger's Whirlpool (1949).

Constance Collier was presented with the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre Award for distinguished service in training and guiding actors in Shakespearean roles. Collier was a drama coach for many famous actors, including coaching Katharine Hepburn during Hepburn's world tour performing Shakespeare in the 50's. Upon Collier's death in 1955, Hepburn "inherited" Collier's secretary Phyllis Wilbourn, who remained with Hepburn as her secretary for 40 years. Collier has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


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