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Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards (1831-1892), Novelist and egyptologist

Self-portraits
Paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints
Photographs

Self-portraitsback to top


c.1873
Watercolour drawing, in thumbnail image of two figures, one seated with watercolour box and parasol, the other standing to right, below scene of large Temple at Abu Simbel with workmen on scaffolding on head of Ramses II; coll. Griffith Inst., U. of Oxford, Amelia Edwards MSS ii.i.34. Repr. Edwards 1877, p.308. Edwards visited Abu Simbel with a group of travellers in February 1873, when (as in the scene depicted) the colossal pharaonic head was smeared with coffee to camouflage the remains of plaster. This image of herself sketching the incident may have been done on the spot, or elaborated later for publication.

1888
Three ink sketches on letterhead notepaper:
(a) dated 20 Apr. and inscr. ‘The delights of sketching from nature 1000 miles up the Nile’, whole-length, rear view, as female artist engaged on landscape watercolour, crocodile approaching from behind;
(b) dated 24 Apr. and inscr. ‘Scene the Second (Rapid Disappearance of A.B.E)’, crocodile climbing bank, artist’s petticoats and boot vanishing from view;
(c) dated 1 May and inscr. ‘Act the Third “Tis distance lends enchantment to the view”’, artist perched on high rocks looking through binoculars at crocodile below.
All coll. Griffith Inst., U. of Oxford, Amelia Edwards MSS, misc. crocodile 1–3.


Paintings, drawings, sculptures and printsback to top


c.1872
Oil on canvas by unidentified artist; untraced. According to Cotton 1901, ‘her portrait was painted in oils at Rome in 1872’; if this information is correct, the artist may have been Edward T. Haynes, colleague of Percival Ball in Rome (see item below).

1873
Marble bust by Percival Ball; see NPG 929.

after 1876
Line and stipple engraving, 220 x 140mm, by August Weger, Leipzig, after an unidentified photograph, with facsimile signature, three-quarter-length, near-profile to right, standing, checked shawl over head and body, left elbow resting on chairback, hand holding small book; NPG D7713.

1889
Pastel and oil portraits based on a photograph (see below, ‘1889’).


Photographsback to top


A bound volume of press clippings containing several dozen obituaries of Edwards, many with halftone, engraved or thumbnail illustrations based on photographs, is in the Sackler Library, Griffith Inst., U. of Oxford, fol.318 EDW.

?early 1850s
Photographs by unidentified photographer, half-length, wearing paisley shawl, two known poses:
(a) to front, left hand resting on chairback, right hand to neck;
(b) turning to left, wrists crossed, engagement ring visible.
Both known from photograph of items in unidentified album, given by Brenda Moon to Archive and L., Somerville Coll., Oxford. Repr. Rees 1998, fig.1.
Possibly a third variant pose formed the basis for the stipple engraving by Weger (see above, ‘after 1876’).

1858–9
Albumen print by (George) Herbert Watkins; see NPG P301(23).

1860s
Albumen cartes-de-visite by Frederick Richard Window, two known poses:
(a) 89 x 58mm, three-quarter-length, near-profile to left, standing, left elbow on upholstered sofa arm with tassel, hands clasped holding small chain, wearing loose jacket with wide pagoda sleeves; NPG x14331.
(b) three-quarter-length to front, leaning to left on sofa arm, right hand raised towards face, wearing patterned shawl and holding letter in left hand; known from photograph of items in unidentified album, given by Brenda Moon to Archive and L., Somerville Coll., Oxford.
In (a) the sitter stands to the left of the sofa, in (b) to the right; one or other image must be reversed.

Photographs by Alexander Bassano, three known poses:
(a) three-quarter-length to left, looking down, buttoning left glove, wearing fur-trimmed pelisse with pagoda sleeves; copy print coll. Egypt Exploration Soc., London. Repr. Pittsburgh Bulletin, 22 Feb. 1890. A half-length version was also issued; copy with facsimile signature, New York PL, image ID 1227686.
(b) head-and-shoulders, half-profile to left, hair piled on back of head, pelisse unbuttoned to show watch or locket on chain; prints colls Somerville Coll., Oxford (large-format cabinet print, Edwards 420); and Petrie M. of Egyptian Archaeology, UCL. Repr. as engr. by W.T. Smedley, Harper’s Bazaar, 16 Nov. 1889, p.1; Graphic, 22 Apr. 1892; Rees 1998, pl.3; and Moon 2006, frontispiece; also repr. as wood-engr. vignette, Harper’s Weekly, vol.9, 1865, p.397 and vol.77, June 1888, p.22.
(c) three-quarter-length, half-profile to left, standing, wearing dark silk gown with visible watch but no pelisse or outer garment; repr. Gentlewoman, 30 Apr. 1892 (credited to Bassano).
Possible fourth variant pose, head turned to front, wearing high collar with silver fastening and linked necklace with a locket in the shape of a tiny book, used as the basis for engr. by ‘Hill’ repr. Lady’s Newspaper & Court Chronicle, 15 Dec. 1883, p.606; and Queen, 23 Apr. 1892. The date of this image is impossible to ascertain, but the sitter appears much younger than 50, and similar to the Bassano portraits.

1889
Photographs by Napoleon Sarony, New York, two known poses:
(a) quarter-length to left, looking to front, wearing embroidered bodice, collar with silver clasp and fur-trimmed coat with high collar; copy print coll. Egypt Exploration Soc., London; repr. Women’s Herald, 28 May 1892 (credited to Sarony); Knowles 1892, p.327;Bookman (New York), vol.13, 1901, p.375; and Drower 1985, pl.9; also repr. as engr. by ‘Kurtz’, with facsimile signature, New York PL, image ID 1227685 and ID 1227687 (from publisher’s catalogue). According to the Women’s Herald, this image was ‘esteemed by [Edwards’s] own relatives and friends an admirable likeness’.
It was so frequently reproduced that it must be considered the prime image, and was chosen, apparently by the sitter, as the basis for two associated portraits.
(i) pastel drawing, 770 x 572mm, by unidentified artist, executed before 1891, quarter-length to left, looking to front, wearing black collar with silver clasp, black dress with white embroidery, grey jacket edged with brown fur, fur collar standing away from face, in original frame with Egyptian motif top centre; Somerville Coll., Oxford (presented 1891). Exh. Victorian Era Exhibition, London, 1897, Woman’s Work: Historical and Literary section (32, no artist credited).
(ii) oil on canvas, approx. 800 x 600mm, by Florence Blakiston Attwood-Matthews (fl. 1890s), half-length to front, wearing dark grey coat with paler fur collar over dark bodice with decorative embroidery and gilt Egyptian-style clasp at neck, right hand holding black Egyptian figurine, others on table behind; coll. Egypt Exploration Soc., London.

(b) half-length, head tilted further to left, looking left, fur cuffs visible; repr. ILN, 12 Dec. 1891, p.769 (sepia); Arena (Boston), vol.4, 1891, p.299; and Rees 1998, fig.7.
Both (a) and (b) appear to have been freely used as the basis of an engr., head-and-shoulders to left, with standaway fur collar; repr. ILN, 23 Apr. 1892, p.510.

after 1889
Photograph by unidentified photographer, half-length vignette, looking left, wearing bulky fur-collared coat with link fastening; New York PL, image ID 1227684. Perhaps taken during US lecture tour 1889–90, but Edwards looks considerably older than in the Sarony images, and the photograph may date from the last months of her life.

Dr Jan Marsh