The Loves of Carmen

The latest addition to the Carnival & Cabaret exhibition, thanks to Caroline d’Antonio, is a stunning Goldscheider figure of Dolores Del Rio from the 1927 silent movie The Loves of Carmen. Inspired by Merimee’s novella and Bizet’s famous opera, Carmen is a wild Spanish gypsy, unscrupulous in matters of the heart.

The story is set in Seville, Spain in the 1830s where the fiery Carmen seduces the soldier Don José but leaves him for a famous bullfighter. In a jealous rage, José stabs Carmen to death. Bizet’s opera with its immorality, lawlessness and tragic death scene scandalized its first audiences in 1875 but Carmen has gone on to become one of the most performed operas of all time. Carmen has been portrayed many times on the silver screen beginning with silent film versions starring Theda Bara in 1915 and Pola Negri in 1918.

Dolores Del Rio
Dolores Del Rio reprised the role of Carmen in 1927 and became a sensation in Hollywood. Dolores was inspired to become a dancer after seeing a performance of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova in 1919.  The young Mexican beauty made her film debut in Joanna (1925), which was based on the short story "Joanna, of the Skirts Too Short and the Lips Too Red and the Tongue Too Pert.” Playing exotic Russian peasants in Resurrection and The Red Dance made her the face of Hollywood and she became known as the female Valentino. Dolores Del Rio was considered the epitome of female beauty and glamour during the Art Deco era. She also pioneered the two-piece swimsuit.

Spanish Style
The popularity of Carmen inspired Spanish gypsy style fashions for the flappers and vamps of the roaring twenties and glamorous thirties. Embroidered silk Spanish shawls were often worn as dresses, accessorized with Spanish hair combs and mantillas. Young women were encouraged to make their own fancy dress costumes with Butterick dress-making patterns in the 1920s. Artists at Goldscheider, Rosenthal and Royal Doulton recorded this trend with a succession of beautiful Spanish ladies in porcelain.


The Golden Years of Goldscheider