# 31795


Studio portrait of Madame Majeroni in costume as Mary Stuart. Melbourne, circa 1890.

$350.00 AUD

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Albumen print photograph, cabinet card format, 164 x 106 mm (mount); recto of mount with gilt imprint of ‘Stewart & Co., 40 & 42 Bourke St., East, near Parliament House, Melbourne’; verso blank; both the print and mount are in fine condition.

A rare potograph of the Italian tragic actress Madame Majeroni (née Giulia Tessero: Italy, 1848 – 1903, Carlton, Melbourne) who, together with her husband, fellow actor Eduardo Majeroni, played a significant part in the history of Australian colonial theatre in the late nineteenth century. The Majeronis were described at the time of Eduardo’s death as ‘one of the most brilliant ornaments of the Melbourne stage’.

Giulia was the niece of the great tragedienne Adelaide Ristori, and had married Eduardo (1840-1891) – a member for many years of Ristori’s touring theatre company – as a very young woman. At the end of the Ristori company’s phenomenally successful Australian tour of 1875, the Majeronis stayed on in Australia. Up until Eduardo’s death in 1891, the couple entertained Australian theatregoers in Melbourne, Ballarat, Sydney, Adelaide and elsewhere with their popular performances of tragic pieces, in between tours of the United States, Europe, India and China.

One of Adelaide Ristori’s most famous roles was the title role in Schiller’s play, Mary Stuart, the Catholic Queen. In this apparently unrecorded photograph, taken in the Melbourne studio of Stewart & Co. between 1889 and 1896 (see below), her niece Madame Majeroni is dressed in costume for the same part; performances of extracts from the play were part of her stage repertoire. However, not long after her husband’s death in 1891, Madame Majeroni lost her voice and was no longer able to perform in public. (For this reason, we believe the present photograph was most likely taken around 1890). A great benefit was held for her at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre at the end of 1895. In her later years she became director of the drama programme at the Società Dante of Melbourne, founded in Drummond Street, Carlton in 1896.

Giulia Majeroni also wrote one work of fiction, A Living Statue : A Novel (Melbourne : George Robertson, 1893), the title of which was taken from one of the pieces she performed with her husband.

For the last two decades of the nineteenth century the firm of Stewart & Co. was one of the most well-known and successful photographic businesses in Melbourne. The Stewart & Co. studio occupied various premises at the ‘top end’ of Bourke Street during this time, always close to the heart of Melbourne’s theatre district. From 1889 to 1896 the firm’s premises were at 40-42 Bourke Street, East. The studio specialized in catering to actors, singers and musicians – as well as to the public who wished to emulate these idols by being photographed in glamorous outfits with dramatic lighting and studio props which reflected refined tastes and an artistic aesthetic.