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01 September 2013

Fernanda Negri Pouget

Fernanda Negri Pouget (1889-1955) was an Italian actress who starred in the Italian silent cinema of the 1910s.

Fernanda Negri Pouget
Italian postcard by Vettori, Bologna, no. 171. Photo: Civirani, Rome

Sad Eyes


Fernanda Negri Pouget was born Fernanda Negri in Rome in 1889. She first enrolled as a pupil of the conservatory Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

In 1906, she was hired by the new Roman film company Alberini & Santoni (which would become Cines). She debuted in the short Il romanzo di un Pierrot/Romance of a Pierrot (Mario Caserini, 1906).

Until 1909 she mostly played supporting parts, often in film d’art-like films by Mario Caserini such as Romeo e Giulietta/Romeo and Juliet (1908) and Beatrice Cenci (1909), but as of 1909 she also had the female leads in films such as Marco Visconti (Mario Caserini, 1909), La sposa del Nilo/The Bride of the Nile (Enrico Guazzoni, 1911), San Francesco il poverello d’Assisi/St. Francis (Enrico Guazzoni, 1911) and Santa Cecilia/St. Cecilia (Enrique Santos, 1911).

Quite soon the slender, frail looking girl with the sad eyes and the tip-tilted nose became one of the major dramatic actresses of Italian silent cinema, challenging the dominance at Cines of ‘first actress’ Maria Gasperini Caserini, Caserini’s wife.

In 1912, she switched to the Ambrosio film company of Turin, where the year before she had already collaborated in the films L’innocente (Edoardo Bencivenga, 1911), based on Gabriele D’Annunzio’s novel, and La madre e la morte (Arrigo Frusta, 1911).

In L’innocente/The Innocent she played the female lead of Giuliana Hermil, a part which sixty-five years after would be played by Laura Antonelli in Luchino Visconti’s adaptation.

In these years she also married the French actor Armand Pouget, who started acting in films by Ambrosio as of 1912. Henceforth, Fernanda was named Negri Pouget.

Fernanda Negri Pouget
Italian postcard by Fotocelere, Turin.

Armand Pouget
Armand Pouget. Italian postcard by Fotocelere, Turin, no. 191

Facing Real Lions


At Ambrosio, Negri Pouget acted in many films, at first several by Mario Caserini, who had shifted to Ambrosio as well. An example was Nelly, la domatrice/Nellie, the Lion Tamer (Mario Caserini, 1912), in which Negri Pouget faced real lions when playing a female lion tamer. She also acted in films by Luigi Maggi (Satana/Satan, 1912), Febo Mari (Il critico/The Critic, 1913), Eleuterio Rodolfi and others.

In 1913 Negri Pouget peaked in various Ambrosio films. She was Beatrice Portinari in Dante e Beatrice/The Life of Dante (Mario Caserini, 1913), she was a grandmother who remembers her heroic deeds during the Risorgimento in La lampada della nonna/Grandmother's Lamp (Luigi Maggi, 1913), she played a newly discovered film star in Cenerentola/A Modern Cinderella (Eleuterio Rodolfi, 1913) – the film gives a wonderful image of the Ambrosio studio ‘in action’ at the time.

Finally she was the pitiful blind girl Nidia/Nydia in the Ambrosio version of the epic Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei/The Last Days of Pompeii (Eleuterio Rodolfi, 1913), while simultaneously the Pasquali company, also of Turin, made a competing version, with Suzanne De Labroy as Nidia.

Later, Negri Pouget had memorable parts in Il dottor Antonio/Doctor Anthony (Eleuterio Rodolfi, 1914) opposite Hamilton Revelle in the title role, and in the period piece Il leone di Venezia/The Lion of Venice (Luigi Maggi, 1914).

In 1917 she played three outstanding parts, as poor Esther in the adventure film Il fiacre No. 13/Cab Number 13 (Alberto Capozzi, Gero Zambuto, 1917) with Elena Makowska and Alberto Capozzi, as a little vagabond turned into a painter’s model in Lucciola/Firefly (Augusto Genina, 1917) with again Makowska, and as a tomboy in Maschiaccio/Tomboy (Augusto Genina, 1917) with Vasco Creti.

In the early 1920s, Negri Pouget worked for several other companies, but mainly at the Roman company Nova Film, e.g. acting as Gasperina in the Luigi Pirandello adaptation Ma non è una cosa seria (Augusto Camerini, 1921), co-starring Romano Calò, Ignazio Lupi and Carmen Boni.

Her last performance she gave in 1923 in the film La gola del lupo (Torello Rolli, 1923). According to critic Lucio D'Ambra, Negri Pouget was characterized by the fact that she stayed far from the languid poses of the divas, preferring the expression of a lively performance on the screen.

Fernanda Negri Pouget died in Rome in 1955.

Fernanda Negri Pouget
Italian postcard.


Fragment of Cenerentola/A Modern Cinderella (1913). Source: Sempre in penombra (YouTube).

Sources: Sempre in penombra (Italian), Wikipedia (Italian) and IMDb.

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