1874 – 1944
Lina Cavalieri was born on Christmas Day at Rieti, some 80 kilometres (50 mi) north of Rome.She lost her parents at the age of fifteen and became a ward of the state, sent to live in a Roman Catholic orphanage. At a young age, she made her way to Paris, France, where her appearance opened doors and she obtained work as a singer at one of the city’s café-concerts. From there she performed at a variety of music halls and other such venues around Europe, while still working to develop her voice.
During her career, Cavalieri sang with other prominent singers (she married one of them Lucien Muratore). After retiring from the stage, Cavalieri ran a cosmetic salon in Paris. In 1914, on the eve of her fortieth birthday – her beauty still spectacular – she wrote an advice column on make-up for women in Femina magazine and published a book, My Secrets of Beauty. In her Parisian Institut de Beauté, she licensed Parfums Isabey Paris and not only sold Isabey perfumes, but developed in 1926 a range of beauty products. The same year, she launched her own perfume, called “Mona Lina”, apparently inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. In 1915, she returned to her native Italy to make motion pictures. When that country became involved in World War I, she went to the United States where she made four more silent films. The last three of her films were the product of her friend, the Belgian film director Edward José. Almost all of her films are considered lost films.
After marrying her fourth husband Paolo d’Arvanni, she returned to live with her husband in Italy. Well into her sixties when World War II began, she nevertheless worked as a volunteer nurse. Cavalieri was killed on 8 February 1944 during an Allied bombing raid that destroyed her home in Florence.
There are some interesting facts about her life to read here.
The Reutlinger studio was located in the heart of the capital of fashion, Paris. It consisted of palm trees, columns, tapestries, rugs, and an assortment of steps and stairways on which the flowing trains from the ladies’ gowns could be resplendently fanned out. The most attractive models were sought, and often the prettiest ladies with the best figures were found at the Folies Bèrgeres, the Comedie Français, or the Opera Bouffe. Most likely that is where Charles met Lina and photographed her.
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