Edgar de Evia

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Edgar de Evia
Edgar de Evia 3x4.jpg
Edgar de Evia circa 2002
Born Edgar Domingo Evia y Joutard
(1910-07-30)July 30, 1910
Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico
Died February 10, 2003(2003-02-10) (aged 92)
New York, New York, U.S.A

Edgar Domingo Evia y Joutard, known professionally as Edgar de Evia (July 30, 1910 – February 10, 2003), was a Mexican-born American photographer.

In a career that spanned the 1940s through the 1990s, his photography appeared in magazines and newspapers such as Town & Country, House & Garden, Look and The New York Times Magazine and advertising campaigns for Borden Ice Cream, Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation, Jell-O among other corporations.

Birth and family[edit]

De Evia was born in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico. His mother was Pauline Joutard (1890–1957), a French-born pianist who performed under the stage name Miirrha Alhambra.[1] His father was Domingo Fernando Evia y Barbachano (1883–1977), a wealthy landowner who was a member of two families that have been prominent in the politics and culture of Yucatán since the mid 19th century, one of which, the Barbachanos, has been described as "one of the most powerful of Yucatán's oligarchy".[2][3][4]

His great-grandfather Don Miguel Barbachano y Tarrazo (1806–1859) was a five-time governor of Yucatán and the patriarch of a clan that was instrumental in developing the Mexican resorts of Cozumel and Playas de Rosarito in Baja California Norte and in popularizing the ruins of Chichen Itza as a tourist attraction.[5] Among his cousins was Manuel Barbachano Ponce, the Mexican film producer and director.

On 30 June 1912, at the age of two, Evia arrived with his family in New York City aboard the liner "Progreso".[6] He graduated from The Dalton School in 1931.[7]

Based on immigration and other official records, it appears that Evia altered his surname to de Evia sometime after 1942, at which time he was using the professional name Edgar D. Evia.[8]


Homeopathy research[edit]

Photographic self-portrait by Edgar de Evia reflected with the oil portrait by M. Jean McLane of himself as a child (circa 1990).
Edgar de Evia, circa 1930.
Logo designed by Edgar de Evia in pen and ink and used by the photographer on all of his business transactions the last thirty years of his life.

Edgar served as the research assistant to Dr. Guy Beckley Stearns, a homeopathic physician with whom he wrote and published articles and one book about homeopathy.

For Laurie's Domestic Medicine, a medical guide published in 1942, Stearns and Edgar D. Evia contributed an essay called "The New Synthesis", which was expanded that same year into a book entitled "The Physical Basis of Homeopathy and the New Synthesis". In the New England Journal of Homeopathy (Spring/Summer 2001, Vol. 10, No. 1), Richard Moskowitz, MD, called the Stearns-Evia article "a cutting-edge essay into homeopathic research that prophesied and actually began the development of kinesiology, made original contributions to radionics, and dared to sketch out a philosophy of these still esoteric frontiers of homeopathy at a time when such matters were a lot further beyond the pale of respectable science even than they are today."[9]


Frequently producing images utilizing soft focus and diffusion, de Evia was dubbed a "master of still life" in the 1957 publication Popular Photography Color Annual. In a review of the book, The New York Times stated that "Black and white [photography] is frequently interspersed through the book and serves as a reminder that black and white still has a useful place, even in a world of color, often more convincingly as well. This is pointed up rather persuasively in the portfolio on Edgar de Evia as a 'master of still life' and in the one devoted to the work of Rene Groebil."[10] "Editorial high-key food photography was introduced by Edgar D'Evia in 1953 for the pages of Good Housekeeping."[11]

William A. Reedy, editor of Applied Photography, in a 1970 interview for the Eastman Kodak publication Studio Light/Commercial Camera, wrote that de Evia:

"has been a photographic illustrator in New York City for many years. His work has helped sell automobiles, food, drink, furniture and countless other products. To fashion accounts he has been known as a fashion photographer, while food people think of him as a specialist in still life. While, in fact, he is a photographer, period. He applies his considerable talent and experience to whatever the problem at hand."[12]

Melvin Sokolsky, a fashion photographer who has created iconic images for Harpers Bazaar and Vogue, considered Edgar de Evia one of his earliest influences, saying, "I discovered that Edgar was paid $4,000 for a Jell-O ad, and the idea of escaping from my tenement dwelling became an incredible dream and inspiration."[13]

In 1968,[14] de Evia founded and served as creative director of a catalogue-photography company that produced photographs for a number of department-store catalogs which included Sakowitz and Gimbels.

Models photographed[edit]

Often using the ornate backgrounds of the historic Rhinelander Mansion in New York—much of which he leased in the 1950s and 1960s, used as his residence, and often rented out portions of as studios and offices—de Evia was hired, through his agent, David Chimay, to photograph fashion models in assignments for fashion magazines and commercial advertising.

Personalities photographed[edit]

De Evia also produced commissioned photographic portraits of individuals well known in the social, film, music, and theatre worlds, including Ethel Fogg[citation needed] (Mrs. William Brooks Clift), mother of Montgomery Clift; Erik Rhodes,[citation needed] American film and Broadway singer and actor; Nordstrom Sisters, American sister act, international cabaret singers; Roman Totenberg, Polish-American violinist[15] and Ralph Lauren,[16] American fashion designer.

Editorial photography[edit]

De Evia worked prolifically for Applied Photography,[17][18] Town & Country, Vogue,[19] Vogue Paris, Architectural Digest,[19][20] Glamour, Bride's, Good Housekeeping,[21] Art and Antiques Magazine, House & Garden, Home, Maison & Jardin, Vogue Decoration, Look, Shaggy Lamb Fashion,[22] The New York Times Magazine, McCall's, Ladies' Home Journal, New York Magazine (December 19, 1988 Feature article on de Evia and his apartment),[23] After Dark, Art Direction, Photography, Popular Photography, Women's Wear Daily and W.

According to records held by the Condé Nast Publications Library, in 1984 alone, de Evia had 193 photographs published in House & Garden, primarily of interiors of houses owned by individuals such as Helen Hayes and Gloria Vanderbilt. The Condé Nast Publication Library is an archive facility which holds, among other things, thousands of typewritten 3 x 5 cards which serve as an early index to all photographers and writers (as well as subjects and celebrities) whose work was published in any and all Condé Nast magazines from the early 1900s until the 1990s, when all such material was put on computer. In the case of photographers, for instance, the cards list in which issue and on which page number an image (or images) by that particular photographer appeared on. According to these index cards, more than 1,000 photographs by de Evia were published in Condé Nast magazines, on subjects ranging from fashion to food to interiors. These were printed in Vogue, Architectural Digest, and other magazines, from the 1950s until the 1990s.


Books that have been illustrated with de Evia's photography include:

Commercial photography[edit]

De Evia worked for Beautyrest by Simmons (1959), Borden Ice Cream (Lady Borden campaign 1956–1960),[24] Celanese Corporation,[25] Empress Chinchilla (fur ads), Fieldcrest, Gorham Silver,[26] hats by Mr. John of John-Frederics,[27] Herman Miller Office Furniture (1957 campaign), Leather Industries of America,[28] Maximilian Furs (1950s, all ads had the credit "DeEvia"), McCall's patterns (all ads had the credit "Photograph by Edgar de Evia"),[29] Milliken (1970 Breakfast Show program), Myrurgia (Maja Perfume 1964 Ad with credit "DeEvia"), Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation (Life Fiberglas campaign 1958) and Steinway & Sons (1967 catalog).



In the 1950s, de Evia's companion and business partner was Robert Denning, who worked in his studio and who would become a leading American interior designer and partner in the firm Denning & Fourcade.[30] From 1966 until his death, de Evia's companion and business partner was David McJonathan-Swarm.


Edgar de Evia, age 92, died at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City from pneumonia following a broken hip.[31] His ashes were interred in the columbarium of the Little Church Around the Corner in New York City.[32]


  1. ^ For information about her recitals in America, both on stage and radio, see the following: The New York Times, 17 June 1928 (p. 133), 13 February 1931 (p. 21), 13 November 1932 (p. X7), and 15 November 1932 (p. 19).
  2. ^ Congresoyucatan.gov.mx
  3. ^ Merida.gov.mx
  4. ^ Yucatan.gob.mx. The quote is taken from "Tourism 'Wars' in the Yucatan", which is posted on the website of the American Anthropological Association. aaannet.org The article was written by Quetzil E. Castaneda, an affiliate assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Washington and the founding director and professor of The Open School of Anthropology and Ethnography.
  5. ^ Haciendachichen.com, According to Oden and Olivia Meeker, "Awesome Mayaland", The New York Times, 28 November 1948, p. X15, Don Fernando Barbachano Peon – a grandson of Miguel Barbachano y Tarrazo and therefore a first cousin of de Evia's father – was the first Yucatecan entrepreneur to establish a hotel next to Chichen Itza, which stands on land co-owned by the family, and develop tours of it and other Mayan ruins for foreign tourists. The family's tourism development and co-ownership of the land under Chichen Itza and other Mayan ruins is examined by Quetzil E. Casteneda on the website of the American Anthropological Association. The Barbachano's involvement in the development of Rosarito is traced in Jenna Cavelle's 2005 article for the San Diego Union, "The Colorful City of Rosarito Celebrates the 80th Anniversary of the Rosarito Beach Hotel", which is posted at rosarito.com
  6. ^ According to the ship's manifest, which can be accessed at ellisisland, several members of the Evia family immigrated from Mexico to New York at the same time, including Evia's paternal aunt Rosario Evia de Espejo and her husband and children. In the manifest, his father, Domingo, gave his occupation as farmer. According to the manifest, the family's surname was Evia, not de Evia.
  7. ^ The head of the Dalton School Alumni Office confirmed this date of graduation by telephone on 28 August 2006; dalton.org
  8. ^ According to original ship manifests and passport information pertaining to the family's immigration to the United States in 1912 give the family's surname as EVIA
  9. ^ New England Journal of Homeopathy – Classical Homeopathy Articles & Reviews
  10. ^ "Color in Review: Popular Photography's Color Annual Surveys Medium's Current Status", The New York Times, 19 May 1957, page X17
  11. ^ Advertising Directions by Edward M Gottschall and Arthur Hawkins, New York: Art Directions Book Co., 1996.
  12. ^ "about Photography with Edgar de Evia" by William A. Reedy, p. 16 Studio Light/Commercial Camera v.2 no. 2 1970.
  13. ^ Melvin Sokolsky’s Affinities by Martin Harrison as reproduced on the web Melvin Sokolsky Seeing Fashion retrieved June 29, 2006. For a career-wide view of Sokolsky's work, see his website. For reference to his work for Vogue and other publications, see Sokolsky interview at bauhaus.com]
  14. ^ According to David McJonathan-Swarm, who was de Evia's companion and business partner from 1966 until 2003.
  15. ^ De Evia's photographic portrait of Totenberg is featured in the article "Among the Week's Recitalists", The New York Times, 28 March 1948, p. X7.
  16. ^ 1978 photograph featured in the article "New York Look – Saturday in the Park with Ralph" by Jada Yuan & Amy Odell, New York, 26 November 2007 online. Retrieved 31 December 2007.
  17. ^ 5 expressions on a new film #12, 1959
  18. ^ Studies in Tone Gradation—the hallmark of excellence #60, 1975
  19. ^ a b Condé Nast Publications Library, New York City, New York
  20. ^ "Vincent Fourcade – Celebrating the pleasures of magnificent excess", by Mitchell Owens, Architectural Digest, January 2000, v. 57 #1, p. 169 – one of twenty five persons named by the magazine "Interior Design Legends".
  21. ^ The Petticoat Craze. Retrieved August 28, 2006.
  22. ^ Seven photographic sheets from de Evia's shoot for this article are in the Look Magazine Photograph Collection, which is held at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., call number LOOK – Job 68-3978. Information about these images, which were taken on 14 November 1968, can be accessed at the Library of Congress. Retrieved 28 August 2006.
  23. ^ Books.google.com
  24. ^ Ad Lady Borden New Black Cherry Crisp Saturday Evening Post, 30 January 1960
  25. ^ Full page advertisement in The New Yorker featured in The Professional Photographer v.80, October 19, 1953
  26. ^ Annual of Advertising, Editorial, Television Art & Design v. 34
  27. ^ McCall's v. 79 no. 10
  28. ^ Harper's Bazaar, September 1952
  29. ^ McCall's January and February 1958
  30. ^ Mitchell Owens, Robert Denning, Champion of Lavish Décor, The New York Times, 5 September 2005, page B7
  31. ^ Information from de Evia's companion, David McJonathan-Swarm, executor of the photographer's estate
  32. ^ Confirmed by Little Church Around the Corner

External links[edit]