Saturday, 14 July 2012

A Little Choosing

My Favourite Portrait
Dame (Alice) Ellen Terry

Ellen Terry ('Choosing'), by George Frederic Watts, circa 1864 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London
Dame (Alice) Ellen Terry
George Frederic Watts
The National Portrait Gallery
via Google images

I have always loved this painting, "Choosing", which hangs in   The National Portrait Gallery  in London. It was given to the gallery in 1975 by George Frederic Watts in lieu of taxes owed to the Government. It is a small painting barely eighteen inches by fifteen inches but has a huge depth and grandeur belying its size.

A wonderful London venue
via Google images

Ellen Terry was born in 1847 and died in 1928 and was an immensely popular Shakespearean actress.
She started acting at an early age, travelling with her family of actors and taking small parts in their productions.

She married the artist George Frederic Watts when barely sixteen, but the marriage lasted under a year. It was during this time that this beautiful painting was completed.

A new relationship with an architect Edward Godwin took her away from the stage for six years during which time she gave birth to two children. When their relationship cooled she returned to the stage and became a highly sought after star right up until her death.

She married Charles Wardell a journalist, in 1877, another marriage which did not last, and after their divorce in 1907 she married for the third time to an American actor James Carew.

With three husbands, two children, many lovers and liasons, and a wonderful long and fulfilling career she sure had a full and busy life. She died at the age of eighty-one in 1928 at her home in Kent and her ashes rest at St. Pauls, Covent Garden, London.

Photo by Julia Cameron
via Tumblr

I recently visited the beautiful home of the actress Ellen Terry, Smallhythe Place, in Kent.
While I was there, I was fascinated to find the following quotation by William Allingham, on which Ellen had written, 'I should wish my children, relatives and friends to observe this when I die.'

"No funeral gloom, my dears, when I am gone;
Corpse-gazings, tears, black raiment, graveyard grimness.
Think of me as withdrawn into the dimness,
Yours still, you mine. Remember all the best
Of our past moments, and forget the rest.
And so, to where I wait, come gently on."


  1. What a beautiful painting, that's one (another) craft I'm rubbish at! Gosh, so many divorces I thought it was almost unheard of in the 19th century

  2. that is such a beautiful painting - you can almost smell those roses!


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