Joachim, Joseph. (1831-1907) & Melba, Nellie. (1861-1931)
Signed Photograph of Joachim and Melba from the Donizetti Centenary
Extraordinary photograph of the legendary violinist and the Australian Soprano, signed by both in ink and dated 1897. Albumen photograph by Guigoni & Bossi of Milan, mounting remnanta and losses to verso and around the edges, mostly on the mount only and easily matted out of sight. 22 x 17 cm.
In 1897 Melba and Joachim performed together at the Donizetti centenary celebrations at Bergamo and it is likely that the present photograph was signed on that occasion. "Over the years he had applauded her success from afar, occasionally meeting her in London...In Bergamo, with boyish ardor, he fell in love with her....Chaperoned by their retinues, the two celebrities saw the sights together...they also view manuscripts of Donizetti's music copied by a young and impoverished Richard Wagner....It was an emotional moment, probably the only time the two enjoyed a true reciprocity of feeling. Charmed and intrigued as she was by Joachim's attentions, there was no disguising the thirty-year age difference and the fact that this bulky body and bearded face reflected every month of his sixty-six years. Although she liked him, flirted with him, and smiled when he called her his Nelmel, there is no evidence that her feelings matched his." (Ann Blainey, "Marvelous Melba: The Extraordinary Life of a Great Diva," p. 178)