ANAÏS NAPOLEON

By Barbara Zecchi, 2011

Anaïs Napoleón (Anne Tiffon Cassan, 1831 – 1912) was born in Narbonne, and immigrated to Spain with her family as a young girl. Her father was a “pedicure artist” (perruquier, coiffeur and pédicure in French documents), who with the name “Napoleón” had settled in Barcelona and had succeeded in attracting a large clientele to his studio in the area of the city known as Las Ramblas. He came to be a “callista de SS.MM” (García Felguera, 310). Anaïs Napoleón  was part of a generation of businesswomen who had started out working with daguerreotypes and, later, moved into photography. A recent exposition organized at the Palau Robert in Barcelona by Colita [this Spanish photographer goes by only one name, trans.] and Mary Nash, Fotògrafes pioneres a Catalunya (2005) managed to reinstate the names of some of these women. According to the organizers, “the photographers, in making their own path in an exclusively masculine realm, defied the social restrictions of gender. They used various strategies to overcome the constrictions of a home and social environment completely indisposed to accepting these women’s systemic dedication to photography. [...] With their laboratories in the kitchens or bathrooms of their houses, they achieved a first-rate body of work, winning prestigious international and domestic competitions” [“las mujeres fotógrafas, al abrirse camino en un universo exclusivamente masculino, desafiaron esas restricciones sociales de género. Utilizaron varias estrategias para superar las constricciones de un entorno familiar y social nada propicio a admitir la dedicación sistemática de las mujeres a la fotografía. [...] Con el laboratorio en la cocina o el baño de su casa, lograron una obra de primera categoría, ganadora de prestigiosos concursos internacionales y de ámbito estatal”] (s.p.). Of the women identified by Colita and Mary Nash, our evidence suggests that only Anaïs Napoleón was also working with the moving image.

By 1850, Anaïs Napoleón had set up a photography studio with her husband, Antonio Fernández Soriano, just in front of the Santa Mónica parish church. The business was initially called “Anais i Fernando,” but since Antonio was using his wife’s last name, they began to be known as “los hermanos Napoleón,” and the nickname was also applied to their studio. According to Colita and Mary Nash “Five days after the public demonstration of the Lumière cinématographe in Catalonia, ‘los hermanos Napoleón’ had already acquired the apparatus and in 1896 they became Barcelona’s representatives for the Lumière’s company” (2005: s.p.). Their film theater on La Rambla de Santa Mónica was such a success that they opened a second theater in another part of Barcelona (on Avenida del Parelelo) in 1901. However, faced with growing competition, they decided to abandon their cinematographic adventure in 1908. The Napoleón’s photography studio had a long life, remaining in the hands of their children (who also adopted their mother’s last name) until finally closing in 1968.

Para citar esta bio-filmografía, por favor usa la referencia: Zecchi, Barbara (2011) «Bio-filmografía de  Anaïs Napoleon» Gynocine Project, Barbara Zecchi, ed. www.gynocine.com