Elizabeth Southerden (nee Thompson), Lady Butler

1 portrait

Elizabeth Southerden (nee Thompson), Lady Butler, by Elizabeth Southerden (nee Thompson), Lady Butler, 1869 - NPG 5314 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Elizabeth Southerden (nee Thompson), Lady Butler

by Elizabeth Southerden (nee Thompson), Lady Butler
oil and pencil on card, 1869
8 5/8 in. x 7 1/8 in. (219 mm x 181 mm)
Purchased, 1980
Primary Collection
NPG 5314


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Born in Switzerland of British parents, Elizabeth Thompson and her sister Alice (later Meynell) were brought up in Italy. In 1866-70, during which period she made this self-portrait, Elizabeth attended the Female School of Art, South Kensington, and made the aquaintance of both Millais and Ruskin. In 1872 she sketched the army during autumn manoeuvres in the New Forest and in 1874, aged 28, she became instantly famous when she exhibited The Roll Call at the Royal Academy. According to Holman Hunt, the work 'touched the nation's heart as few pictures have ever done' and it was so popular that a policeman was detailed to stand by it in order to control the enthusiastic crowds. In 1877 Thompson, who painted military works all her life, married Major William Butler. Despite being one of the most famous artists of the day, she was never elected as a Royal Academician; shortlisted with Herkomer in 1879, she lost by two votes.

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