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Early French Culture Physique Photography
Professor Edmond Desbonnet

 


EARLY PHOTOGRAPHS
OF ATHLETES
(MEN & WOMEN)

1900 -1920


Visit also
Fairground performers
Jules Richard Nudes / Cabaret Women

 

 

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At the end of the 19th. Century, Professor Edmond Desbonnet (1867-1953) develloped his Physical Culture theory and practice. His fitness centra became popular in many European countries. Desbonnet used (stereo) photography to capture his proud, men & women athletes.

This "
METHODE DESBONNET" was a reaction against the "Belle Epoque" decadence where people lived wealthy withouth thinking on their physical condition and health. Desbonnet stated that in addition to a healthy mind, a healthy body was equally important! Since the "Methode Desbonnet" was also expensive, before World War I, his fitness rooms were frequented by the high class of French society. After the first war, the working class gain access to the Physical Culture movement, method & vogue.

At the hight of Desbonnet's popularity, there were more than 200 fitness centra in Europe where his method was used. Famous early body builders, e.g. Young Sandow, Apollon, Brancaccio, Nowosielsky, were adepts of the Desbonnet method and often depicted in the magazines and books he published. Through his magazines, these photographs were offered for sale, often in combination with hand held stereo viewers or the more elaborate TAXIPHOTE, produced by Jules Richard, or STEREODROME, produced by Gaumont.

 
Click See some Physical Culture on Television
 
..Jules Richard Taxiphote Cabinet

 

Stereodrome Gaumont..
..


Hand-held Brewster type stereo viewer for glasplates
(center)

Mahogany Jules Richard stereo storage cabinet
(left)

Stereodrome, produced by Gaumont
 (right)

 

Popular Culture Physique Magazines and Books

Professor Desbonnet published five magazines on the practice of physical culture. In these publications his theories are explained and illustrated with photographs of famous athletes. Sandow, Apollon, Brancaccio, Otto Arco, Cadine, Deriaz, etc.

His most popular magazines were "La Santé par les Sports" & "La Culture Physique".
See
"The three sisters Kloss", Gymnastes, on the cover of the 1905 December issue.

Women and physical culture seems to be related with the world of the cabaret and theatre, judging women photographs in these health magazines.
See: "Les Jambes Superbes, women in the Moulin Rouge & Folies Bergère"

The same images seen on the well known and collectable variete postcards, depicting vaudeville actrices, are often seen on the cover and inside these physical culture magazines. For example Otero, Cléo de Mérode, De Marsa, Trouhanova, Régina Badet, Sandrini, etc. Obviously these illustrations are done by the same postcard photographers, e.g. Walery, Reutlinger, etc.

 

 


Visit the Nudes of Jules Richard



Carefully click on woman

 

 

 Hanny Spiegelberg



Desbonnet used large mirrors in his "Culture Physique" rooms. This enables the athletes to inspect and follow-up their physical devellopment and appeareance. For photographic purposes, these mirrors were often hidden by a curtains, acting as a background.

Images where no mirrors or photographer is visible but in the same style, can be described to Desbonnet. Certainly, not all images in this collection are made by this grand-father of physical culture. Several images ar much too different. Another part of images in the lot depicts
strong men (e.g. Apollon) & strong women (e.g. Apollina) street acts on fairs and vaudeville events.

Most of the men portraits have their name written on the glass stereo slide but this is very rarely the case for the women portraits. E.g. Hanny Spiegelberg. Most of these images stay anonymous. In some women portraits the faces are deliberately scratched to make them unrecognisable. See the next two images taken in the Culture Physique room.

On this page we will meet the more rare women athletes, physical culture, certainly was not only the privilige of men!
The photographs on this page (including the photographs in Classic Nudes & Cabaret Women) all came frome one "Culture Physique" collection housed in a mahogany Jules Richard stereo storage cabinet, depicted above left.
More on the history of bodybuilding can be found on "The Todd-McClean Physical Culture Collection" Sandowmuseum.com, "The golden age of Iron Man", "Iron Game/Physical Culture History",


  Woman made anonymous

Often the female bodybuilders where hiding their faces behind their hands or a kind of prop. In the detail of an early image on the left (
and below) the photographic emulsion is scratch away, both on left and right image of the stereo-glassplate as well as in the indirect reflection in the mirror of the two stereopairs.

This
photograph is made in a gym room of professor Desbonnet, perhaps by this pioneer of physical culture itself.








Woman, made anonymously,
in the Culture Physique








Women, made anonymously,
in the Culture Physique









Nude Woman posing










Nude Woman posing









Nude Woman posing










Nude Woman posing









Nude Woman posing









Hanny Spiegelberg









Hanny Spiegelberg






Click image to enlarge


Hanny Spiegelberg










Garden Sisters










Garden Sisters









Monetrice in La Culture Physique






Click image to enlarge


Monetrice in La Culture Physique









Monetrice in La Culture Physique









Nude Woman posing










Nude Woman posing









Nude Woman posing










Nude Woman posing in mirror









Nude Woman posing








Nude Woman in mirror
 

 

 

UNAUTHORISED USE OF THESE IMAGES IS PROHIBITED!
THE ONLINE PUBLICATION OF THESE IMAGES IS AN INQUIRY FOR A FUTURE PROJECT.
ALL EDMOND DESBONNET PHOTOGRAPHS ON THIS PAGE ARE COPYRIGHT PROPERTY OF RICHARD DESBONNET. OTHER IMAGES NEED IDENTIFICATION.
IMAGES WILL IMMEADIATELY BE REMOVED? UNLESS PERMISSION IS GRANTED
PLEASE CONTACT thomas@visual-media.be

http://www.culture-physique

Copyright: 2003 - 2004 - 2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016 - 2017 - 2018 by Thomas Weynants
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he online Media Archaeology Museum version (24) Jan 2017 to Dec 2018 - All rights are protected by SOFAM.be