A photographic puzzle starts when I ask myself a question.
Who is that dancer?
ON 247 / 688-716
I can show you the answer:
How do I get from question to answer?
Well, with a little bit of photo detective work.
One in particular caught my eye today: Unidentified partner of ballet dancer Valentin Zeglovsky, 1947 / Max Dupain
It is a great photograph, well lit, well composed.
But, unidentified?? Such a good photograph, but we don't know of whom? That's usually the sort of question to which I can find the answer. Someone who was worth Max Dupain taking the time to create that work of art, she should be known.
I clicked through to the website of the State Library of New South Wales to find out more about the photograph.
There I see an "Administrative/Biographical Note" which says:
Hmm. Valerie Lawson. She's a well-known journalist. So let's look at her blog page here.
Valerie's blog post gives some background about the photographs, and a good deal of biographical information about Valentin Zeglovsky - a well-known ballet dancer of years past.
It also gives the information that Valentin Zeglovsky married dancer & actress Pamela Bromley-Smith in 1949, and that Valerie thinks she may be the unidentified woman.
Well, there's a working hypothesis right there.
Let's see if we can find a photograph of Pamela Bromley-Smith to compare with the many of the unidentified woman.
There are three excellent close-up photographs of the unidentified woman on Valerie's blog which will provide excellent comparison.
Ok, now the go-to place for biographical research into 20th Century Australians is the National Library of Austrlia's Trove website.
Let's type Valentin Zeglovsky into the search box and see how we go.
The search also returns 28 digitised newspaper articles, none of which appear to refer to Pamela Bromley-Smith, nor have photographs of the unidentified woman nor Pamela Bromley-Smith.
I inspected each of the digitised newspaper articles until I found this one:
(ref. Prizewinners in Miss N.S.W. Quest. (1947, November 22). The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved November 17, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article55894727)
And there, on the right, is Pamela Bromley-Smith.
UPDATE - 21 November 2011.
It seems that Valerie Lawson is not convinced that the photograph of Pamela Bromley-Smith in the newspaper item I've shown above is the same person as the mystery dancer in the Max Dupain photographs.
"Bob, the newspaper photo does look like the woman with Zeglovsky. I had seen it on Trove but was not completely certain as the photo is grainy and she seems to have dark hair whereas Pamela is blonde in the Dupain photos. But this is the closest we’ve got to identifying her so far."
and the State Library of New South Wales people are also unimpressed with my findings:
"Thanks Bob, we've investigated Pamela Bromley-Smith and aren't convinced. This woman is probably a ballet dancer as her ballet poses in other photographs with Zeglovsky look professional."
I'll have to do a bit more work then.
Valerie Lawson also mentioned on her blog that Pamela Bromley-Smith and Valentin Zeglovsky had two sons, Mark and Paul Zeglovskis who attended Holland Park School in London.
I'm trying to contact the family in London.
Valerie also mentioned that Pamela Bromley-Smith also at times used the stage name "Pamela Bromley".
Searching Trove for that name also gives us an article on Page 16 of the Australian Women's Weekly magazine of Wednesday 4 July, 1951 about the London production of Kiss Me, Kate which includes a phorograph captioned, "Dancers, led by Pamela Bromley, who comes from Neutral Bay, New South Wales, wait in the wings."
It's accompanied by this photograph:
The photograph looks like the mystery dancer to me, but is a little bit too small to be certain.
The search continues for more evidence.
UPDATE - 24 November 2011
I have managed to contact Mr. Leo Zeglovskis in the UK. I asked him if he could identify the photographs on Valerie Lawson's blog post here:
which contain, amongst others, photographs captioned as:
- Valentin Zeglovsky and unidentified dancer, photo © Max Dupain, ON247/705, Courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW
- Unidentified partner of Valentin Zeglovsky, © Max Dupain, 1947, ON247/710, Courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW
- Unidentified partner of Zeglovsky, photo © Max Dupain, Courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, ON247/712
- Unidentified partner of Zeglovsky, © Max Dupain, 1947, ON 247/709, Courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW
He wrote back:
"These pictures are all of my mother Pamela Bromley-Smith."