Curator of Rare Books, Beth Turcy Kilmarx, and Special Collections Assistant, Mary Tuttle, have created a fascinating exhibit highlighting items from The Tilly Losch Collection, which is held in Binghamton University Libraries’ Special Collections.
Tilly Losch was born in 1904 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary. Tilly begin her career in dancing at the age of 15, dancing in the Vienna Ballet and at Burgtheater, until meeting Max Reinhardt in 1927 and Corky B. Cochran soon after, who helped expand her dancing and choreography to productions in the United States and Europe. Tilly danced with Fred Astaire on Broadway, and gained minor roles in films after moving to Hollywood, including The Garden of Allah (1936), The Good Earth (1937), and A Duel in the Sun (1946). In her time recovering from tuberculosis in a sanatorium in Switzerland, Tilly learned to paint, and was fairly successful in her art career, with many gallery showings and even having one painting being purchased by the Tate museum in London. Tilly was married twice; her second marriage was to Lord Henry George Alfred Marius Victor Herbert, the sixth earl of Carnarvon and owner of Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey), more affectionately known as “Porchey.” They divorced in 1947, though remained amicable and in close contact for the next three decades.
This exhibit includes personal memorabilia of Tilly Losch, including various pieces of correspondence and photographs, as well as several of her paintings and sketchbooks. Some of her notable acquaintances include Fred and Adele Astaire, Cecil Beaton, Marlon Brando, Winston Churchill, Cole Porter, and Orson Welles.
Tilly Losch donated her papers and paintings to the Binghamton University Libraries as it also houses the Max Reinhardt Archives. The collection spans 30 linear feet and consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence, as well as legal documents, banking records, personal memorabilia, diaries, press clippings, photographic portraits, and publicity photos. The Tilly Losch Collection also includes a large number of loose sketches, sketchbooks, and over 500 of her paintings, many dealing with autobiographical themes. The materials span the years 1910-1975, though the majority of the collection represents materials accumulated during the years she lived and worked in America: roughly from the 1930s to the time of her death in 1975.
The exhibit is located in Special Collections on the second floor of the Glenn G. Bartle Library, and can be viewed 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday – Friday throughout the summer.