Bloomsbury and Beyond
Lady Ottoline Morrell
by Baron Adolph de Meyer
Past display archive
31 May - 19 September 2005
This fascinating display of 69 photographs celebrates the National Portrait Gallery's recent acquisition of Lady Ottoline Morrell's photographic archive. This consists of twelve vellum covered albums containing 3,953 captioned snapshots with a similar number of loose prints, original negatives and formal studio portraits of herself and family taken by leading photographers of the period including Baron De Meyer, George Charles Beresford, Lizzie Caswall Smith, Cavendish Morton and a fellow occasional snapshotter Cecil Beaton. Morrell's own intimate snapshot portraits, taken over a thirty year period, offer a unique insight into the leading literary and artistic figures of the early twentieth century who benefited from her generous support and hospitality.
The display includes five frames devoted to formal portraits of Lady Ottoline with ten further themed frames incorporating a selection of new prints from her original negatives of some of the best known subjects she befriended and inspired. These include eight studies of Virginia Woolf with whom she maintained a long friendship.
Bertrand Russell, the writer and philosopher, with whom she had a long affair and friendship and who wrote her over 2000 letters is the subject of five of her photographs shown here. Other frames relate to the artists Mark Gertler, Dora Carrington and Augustus John, whilst her literary friends are represented by portraits of Siegfried Sassoon, T.S.Eliot (perhaps her truest friend) and Lytton Strachey and Aldous Huxley who enjoyed her hospitality but caricatured her in their letters and work.
This display coincides with a new National Portrait Gallery publication by Frances Spalding, The Bloomsbury Group. The book contains seventeen illustrations of her photographs and is complemented by a display of Bloomsbury paintings in Room 31 on the First Floor.
The acquisition of the Morrell Archive was supported by Friends of the National Libraries and the Dame Helen Gardner Bequest.