Full caption: Birth of the Pearl. Camera: F.S. Armitage. AM&B, 1901. Paper Print Collection (LC1318), Moving Image Section, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Full caption: Birth of the Pearl. Camera: F.S. Armitage. AM&B, 1901. Paper Print Collection (LC1318), Moving Image Section, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.

Early cinematic efforts incorporated traditions from many forms of mass entertainment, including the theater, vaudeville, burlesque, and the circus. Whether low-rent or highbrow, numerous early films feature young women in risqué poses or situations. From Show Girl to Burlesque Queen (1903) titillates and frustrates as its star begins to undress in front of the camera, only to duck behind a screen before all is revealed. The art tableau is used in The Birth of the Pearl (1901) to provide a provocative view of the female body.

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