Edgar de Evia

Edgar de Evia
Edgar de Evia

Edgar de Evia circa 2002
Born July 30, 1910(1910-07-30)
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

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

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.

Models photographed

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 some of the fashion world's top models in assignments for fashion magazines and commercial advertising.[15] The models included:

Personalities photographed

De Evia also produced commissioned photographic portraits of individuals well-known in the social, film, music, and theatre worlds, including the following:

Editorial photography

The citations given are only a fraction of de Evia's known published work.[21]

  • Applied Photography: 5 expressions on a new film #12, 1959; Studies in Tone Gradation—the hallmark of excellence #60, 1975
  • Town & Country[22]
  • Vogue[23]
  • Vogue Paris: October 1985 – #660; April 1986 – #665; May 1986 – #666,
  • Architectural Digest[23] January 2000[24]
  • Glamour: November 1979; December 1980; January 1983; February 1983; February 1984; May 1984; August 1984; November 1984; December 1984; January 1985; March 1985; June 1985; July 1986; October 1986; November 1986; December 1986; January 1987; February 1987; March 1987; June 1987
  • Bride's: June/July 1985 December 1985/January 1986
  • Good Housekeeping November 1954[25]
  • Art and Antiques Magazine: January 1985; May 1985 (home of Theodore Roosevelt)
  • House Beautiful: May 1978; February 1987; September 1987; November 1987; December 1987; January 1988; February 1988; September 1988; October 1988; March 1989; June 1989; July 1989 (cover); April 1990; v.133 1991 (Jan–Jun)
  • House & Garden: August 1977; June 1981; February 1982; March 1982; September 1982; December 1982; January 1983 (home of Jean Vanderbilt); December 1983 (home of Dolly and F. Burrall Hoffman in Florida) ; January 1984 (home of Mercedes and Francis L. Kellogg); February 1984 (home of Gloria Vanderbilt); July 1984 (home of Janet Lee Bouvier Auchincloss Morris); October 1984 including cover (home of Ralph Lauren); December 1984 (home of Helen Hayes; March 1985; September 1985; (home of Suzie Frankfurt); November 1985; March 1986 (home of Mr. & Mrs. David T. Johnston); April 1986 (home of Boaz Mazor); August 1986; March 1987 (home of Mrs. F. Burrall Hoffman); June 1990; March 1991 (home of Robert Denning and Vincent Fourcade); March 1991 (home of Lord and Lady Wedgwood)
  • Life: October 8, 1951; June 9, 1952; November 17, 1952; April 6, 1953; July 20, 1953; September 21, 1953
  • Home: February 1989
  • Maison & Jardin: April 1983; December/January 1986 – #319
  • Vogue Decoration: September 1985 – #3; September 1986 – #7; September 1987 – #11; October/November 1989 – #22; October/November 1990 – #28
  • Look, Shaggy Lamb Fashion, 21 January 1969[26]
  • The New York Times Magazine, Home Design Special, 9 September 1979; 8 May 1983; 14 April 1985; "Design; As the Room Turns" by Carol Vogel, 31 January 1988
  • McCall's: February, September, November 1951; March, July, November 1952 (all covers); February 1958
  • Ladies' Home Journal: October 1984; May 1985
  • New York Magazine, December 19, 1988 Feature article on de Evia and his apartment:[27] April 10, 1989 (home of Paul Silverman); September 25, 1989 (home of John Hutton[disambiguation needed ])
  • After Dark: Pastorale: A Photo Essay pp. 60–65, August 1975
  • Art Direction, v.12 1960–61 (Dec–Mar)
  • Photography: February 1952 (cover)
  • Popular Photography: v.60 1967 Jan–Jun
  • Women's Wear Daily: September 25, 1981 (section cover)
  • W: Summer Is... May 25 – June 1, 1979; Temptations June 22–20, 1979; Eating In September 28 – October 5, 1979; In a city high-rise: Low-key chic March 27 – April 3, 1981; Temptations June 19–26, 1981; The Pleasures of Italy August 28 – September 4, 1981; The Pleasures of Simple Food October 23–30, 1981; W Christmas November 20–27, 1981


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

  • The American Annual of Photography, New York: American Photography Book Department, 1953.
  • Good Housekeeping Book of Home Decoration by Mary L. Brandt, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1957.
  • Picture Cookbook by The Editors of LIFE, Mary Hamman, Editor, New York, NY: Time Incorporated, 1958. Second edition 1959, Third edition 1960.
  • The Spacemaker Book by Ellen Liman, Nancy Stahl and Lewis Wilson, New York: Viking Press, 1977.
  • Fashion: The Inside Story by Barbaralee Diamonstein, New York: Rizzoli, 1985
  • House & Garden's Best in Decoration by the Editors of House & Garden, New York: Condé Nast Books, Random House, 1987. De Evia's photos include the front jacket.
  • Glamour's On The Run by Jane Kirby, Glamour Food Editor, New York: Condé Nast Books, Villard Books, 1987. De Evia's photos include the front & back jacket.
  • Interior Design by John F. Pile, New York: H.N. Abrams, 1988.
  • The Tiffany Gourmet Cookbook by John Loring, New York: Doubleday, 1992.
  • House Beautiful Decorating Style by Carol Cooper Garey, Hearst Books, 2005. 1992 edition published by Hearst Communications.
  • Victoria On Being a Mother by Victoria Magazine Staff, Hearst Books, 2005. (1st. edition and ©1989)
  • Culinary Traditions II: A Taste of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania collected by the Waynesboro Historical Society, Morris Press, 2007.

Commercial photography



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.[36]


Edgar de Evia, age 92, died at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City from pneumonia following a broken hip.[37] His ashes were interred in the columbarium of the Little Church Around the Corner in New York City.[38]


  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. ^ According to former art director Marty Stevens, as quoted in the de Evia website guestbook
  16. ^ Edgar de Evia Archives, New York City, New York. Scholars who wish to access this archive for research purposes can contact the executor of de Evia's estate through the email address listed at deevia.com.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g Edgar de Evia Archives, New York City, New York
  18. ^ Edgar de Evia Archives, New York City, New York
  19. ^ 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. He is the father of National Public Radio legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ Confirmed via holdings of Town & Country at the New York Public Library, Research Division, New York City, New York
  23. ^ a b Condé Nast Publications Library, New York City, New York
  24. ^ "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".
  25. ^ The Petticoat Craze. Retrieved August 28, 2006.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ Books.google.com
  28. ^ Ad Lady Borden New Black Cherry Crisp Saturday Evening Post, 30 January 1960
  29. ^ Full page advertisement in The New Yorker featured in The Professional Photographer v.80, October 19, 1953
  30. ^ Annual of Advertising, Editorial, Television Art & Design v. 34
  31. ^ McCall's v. 79 no. 10
  32. ^ Copy of ad for sale on eBay. Retrieved November 11, 2007.
  33. ^ Harper's Bazaar, September 1952
  34. ^ McCall's January and February 1958
  35. ^ CGI.ebay.com
  36. ^ Mitchell Owens, Robert Denning, Champion of Lavish Décor, The New York Times, 5 September 2005, page B7
  37. ^ Information from de Evia's companion, David McJonathan-Swarm, executor of the photographer's estate
  38. ^ Confirmed by Little Church Around the Corner

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