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Frank Sharman Photographic Collection

Collection: Frank Sharman Photographic Collection
Reference code: ROH/SHA
Date: 1946 - 1951
Date notes: Material undated; dates derived through research.
Level: Fonds
Extent: 16 files of black and white prints (100 items); 14 files of colour transparencies (199 items); 22 files of black and white negatives (394 strips)
Scope and content: The collection contains colour transparencies and black and white prints and negatives of performances by English and foreign ballet companies performing in London: Sadler's Wells Ballet, Sadler's Wells Opera Ballet, Ballet Rambert, Les Ballets des Champs-Elysées, Les Ballets de Paris, International Ballet, Marquis de Cuevas' Grand Ballet de Monte Carlo, and Original Ballet Russe. There are also three images of the Covent Garden Opera Company. Sharman took many of the photographs from the theatres' balconies, although most of the colour photographs were taken during dress rehearsals from the stalls. The collection is notable for the colour photographs, shot with Kodrachrome film, which have retained their brilliant colour.
Creator: Frank Sharman
History/biography: English photographer Frank Sharman, F.R.P.S. (1904-84) took photographs of ballet companies performing in London between 1946 and 1950. Rare in a black-and-white era, Sharman used Kodachrome film to record ballet productions in colour, which has meant that the vibrancy and accuracy of the colour has lasted. Sharman also took black and white 'action' photographs of dancers during performance, usually shooting from the balcony.
It is not known whether Sharman was a professional photographer in the 1940s, or trying to establish a career in ballet photography. His ballet photographs were published irregularly in 'The Dancing Times', 'Ballet Today', and 'Dance Magazine', and more frequently in 'Ballet Annual'. His images also appeared in International Ballet's souvenir programme for May 1950 and in the booklet 'The Story of Swan Lake' (E.G. Derrington, St. Clements Press, London, 1948), which featured International Ballet's production.
Sharman joined the Royal Photographic Society in 1941 and it is believed he became a Fellow of the society with a panel of ballet photographs. He remained a member until his death in 1984. At the end of his working life, Sharman was the British agent for a German paper mill and a keen amateur photographer. He was President of the Beckenham Photographic Society, 1953-1955, and a member until 1971. Sharman was a regular speaker on the society's annual programme of meetings, and in 1961, he gave a talk entitled 'Twenty-one years of Colour'.
Source of acquisition: The collection was donated in memory of Ethel Sharman, wife of Frank Sharman, by her estate.
System of arrangement: The collection is divided by material type into three categories: black and white photographic prints, colour transparencies, and black and white photographic negatives. Within each series, the images are grouped by company and then alphabetically by production. All prints and transparencies have been scanned and attached to item-level catalogue records. A selection of images from the negatives have been scanned and attached to file-level catalogue records.
Access conditions: The collection, which includes large copy prints of 'The Sleeping Beauty' transparencies, is available for viewing in ROH Collections by appointment only.
Copyright: Copyright is owned by Royal Opera House Collections.
Condition: Good.