Sarah Bernhardt signed with initials 'JC' (lower right), pencil, pen and ink and pastel 25 x 20cm (9 13/16 x 7 7/8in).
EXHIBITED: Paris, Le Salon des Peintres du Spectacle, Cocteau, 1995 Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Jean Cocteau, 1989, no. 59
Described as "the most famous actress the world has ever seen", Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) featured on the stages of Europe, America and Australia between the 1870s and 1890s, and went on to become one of the first silent movie actresses, appearing in Hamlet as the lead role in 1900. Bernhardt regularly slept in a coffin, claiming it gave her a more profound understanding of the many tragic roles she was given. Cocteau met Bernhardt through their joint friend the actor Edouard de Max, who had encouraged Cocteau's poetry, and who regularly acted alongside Bernhardt.