Baron Adolph De Meyer Aida, a Maid of Tangier
Medium Platinum or related metal print
Mount on original mount
Photo Date 1910-12c Print Date 1910-12c
Dimensions 9 x 6-1/8 in. (229 x 156 mm)
Photo Country United Kingdom (UK)
Photographer Country United States (USA)
Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith
About This Image
Aida, A Maid of Tangier was produced for and printed in Camera Works #40, October 1912. This is a slight variant taken during the same session. Charles Holmes wrote about this image and similar studies by De Meyer in 1912 in The International Studio (Vol. 46), saying "...these were portraits not merely of individuals, but of classes; they possessed value as racial documents which would place them far above similar values in any but the most exceptional paintings."
As Susan Kandel wrote in the LA Times, "De Meyer's Orientalist fantasies are likewise oblivious to their own subtexts. The visual tropes of one ethnographic image--dark skin, glistening earrings, turban and mysterious smile of Aida, a Maid of Tangier--are reinvented as fashionable accouterments for well-bred ladies in other images. For De Meyer, beauty provides its own social agenda, a notion that bears close consideration, especially in terms of the contemporaneous work of Henri Matisse, whom Stieglitz featured in Camera Work just three months before De Meyer's debut there."
Interestingly Sir John Lavery also painted a portrait of undoubtedly the same subject in his painting, "Aida, A Moorish Maid". Lavery met her in Tangiers and later helped her go to London, which is possibly where De Meyer met her, otherwise the date of the photograph would have to be early 1910 or earlier. Her full name is likely to have been Aïda (originally Aïsha) Ilhralm. Sir John Lavery was an Irish painter best known for his portraits and was considered to be one of the greatest painters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During World War I Lavery was an Official War Artist, and the Imperial War Museum has examples of his work. He donated 39 paintings to what is now the Ulster Museum, Belfast, Ireland.
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