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Picturing a World

Salome

Robert Henri, Salome (1909)
As a follow-up to my last post, here’s a quick look ahead at naughty behavior in New York City in 1908, the setting for my current work-in-progress. I came across Robert Henri’s portrait of the dancer Mademoiselle Voclezca in a 1995 exhibition catalogue, Metropolitan Lives: The Ashcan Artists and Their New York. More astonishing to me than the painting were several paragraphs about a craze for “Salome dancers.” Perhaps inspired by the scandal associated with the closing of Richard Strauss’s opera, Salome, after its premiere in New York in 1907, exotic dancers began performing Dance of the Veils routines, socialites threw lavish Salome parties, and Tin Pan Alley produced songs very different from Strauss’s music. My heroine, Mattie, has a hidden sex life. Hmm.

For the lyrics and sheet music cover art of Irving Berlin’s 1909 song Sadie Salome, click here.

To hear it sung in a priceless English music hall style, click here.

For more about Henri, click here.
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