Nelly (b. 1899)

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Nelly (b. 1899)

Greek photographer . Name variations: Elly Seraidari or Seraïdari. Born Elly Souyoultzoylou in Aydin, Asia Minor (now Turkey), in 1899; married Angelos Seraidari, also seen as Seraidaris (a pianist), in 1929.

In 1927, for a French publication, Nelly shot a series of photographs of French ballerina Mona Paiva dancing nude on the Acropolis, an exercise in creativity that caused a scandal in the Greek press but introduced a new movement and expressiveness into the art of photography. Known later for her portraits, documentations, and landscapes, as well as her nudes, Nelly was also the first Greek photographer to use color, beginning with autochrome plates.

Born Elly Souyoultzoylou in Aydin, Asia Minor (now Turkey), in 1899, Nelly, as she came to be called, studied piano and painting along with photography as a young woman, and had her first exhibition at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden, along with one of her teachers Franz Fiedler. (She also studied with Hugo Erfurt.) In 1925, she returned to Athens and began working professionally, documenting in pictures the neighborhood children and scenes of refugee life. Her career flourished through the early 1930s, when she created celebrity portraits and landscapes which were used to promote tourism. Nelly and her husband, pianist Angelos Seraidari, were on a visit to the United States when World War II broke out, and they decided to stay, settling in New York. They did not return to Greece until 1966.

During the 1980s, two exhibitions of Nelly's work were mounted in Greece: the first was a retrospective by the Parallaxis Association at the Vafopoulio Cultural Center in Thessaloniki in 1985; the second was a solo exhibit entitled "Nelly, Photographer of the Inter-War Period," organized by the Association for Studies in Modern Greek Culture and General Education and the Bane Museum in Athens in 1987. In 1983, Vera Palma and Alkis Xanthakis created the film Nelly, the Asia Minor Photographer, which was produced under the aegis of the Greek Ministry of Culture.


Rosenblum, Naomi. A History of Women Photographers. NY: Abbeville Press, 1994.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts