Biographical / Historical
London-born Florence Vandamm (1883-1966) was, from 1925 to 1950, the photographer of record for Broadway. Trained as a fine artist at the Royal Academy, she first employed photography as an adjunct to portrait painting. In 1908, Vandamm opened a photographic studio in London's West End that enjoyed steady patronage. In 1918, she married George R. Thomas, an American engineer, who, under his wife's tutelage, took up photography. The English financial depression of 1923 drove the couple to New York City where Vandamm secured magazine work.
In 1924, the Theater Guild hired Vandamm Studio as a back-up to contract photographer Francis Bruguiere. The Vandamms (George now going by the name Tommy) soon supplanted Bruguiere as they proved more reliable and artistic, and their reputation grew in the Broadway community. Tommy Vandamm developed an unobtrusive way of handling stage photographs that garnered the attention of the Schubert organization. He performed location work, Florence shot publicity portraits in the West 57th Street studio. By the end of 1925, Vandamm Studio had surpassed the White Studio as the first call photographic service for stage productions in New York. The Vandamms increased the volume of their work as various studios collapsed during the Depression. In October 1937, The City Museum of New York mounted an exhibition, "New York Theatre Productions as Photographed by Vandamm, 1923-1937," featuring images from 56 plays and musicals culled from the 50,000 negatives then stored in the studio.
Source: Auction description