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Mrs Patrick Campbell

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Mrs Patrick Campbell

by Frederick Hollyer
platinotype cabinet card, 1893
5 1/2 in. x 3 1/2 in. (140 mm x 89 mm)
Purchased, 1983
Primary Collection
NPG P229

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Frederick Hollyer (1838-1933), Photographer and art publisher. Artist associated with 111 portraits, Sitter associated with 6 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Influenced by the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites, Frederick Hollyer's softly lit and intimate portraits of friends and contemporaries form a revealing picture of cultural life in England in the late Victorian period.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 135 Read entry

    One of the greatest actresses of the century, 'Mrs Pat' became on account of her tempestuous moods, devastating wit and pronounced eccentricity, a legend in her own lifetime. She made her debut in 1888, and triumphed in the year of this photograph in the role of Paula Tanqueray in the first production of Pinero's The Second Mrs Tanqueray. She had a dark, Italian beauty and a rich expressive voice, with a gift for portraying passionate and complex women. Sir Edmund Gosse writing to her in 1895 cites 'the flash and gloom, the swirl and the eddy, of a soul torn by supposed intellectual emotion'. Later roles included Mélisande (1898) and in lighter vein Eliza Doolittle in Shaw's Pygmalion (1914): 'I invented a Cockney accent and created a human Eliza'.

    Frederick Hollyer took up photography in about 1860, and established a business in the photographic reproduction of works of art (notably the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites and the drawings of Burne-Jones). As a relaxation he photographed people, and at his studio at 9 Pembroke Square, London, Mondays were reserved for portraiture. His portrait prints, with their limited range of tone and distinctive mounts, have a rare delicacy and beauty. His sitters are unselfconsciously posed and softly lit, their characters revealed with great sympathy and understanding. Hollyer was a member of the Photographic Society and the Linked Ring, and his work was much admired by his contemporaries: 'From a fine Hollyer portrait you study the man as he is ... these finely modelled heads, set so well in place as regards the decoration of a panel, are also transcripts of personalities - human documents of singular verity…’.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 98
  • Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 172 Read entry

    Beatrice Stella Campbell (née Tanner) was one of the leading British actresses of her time. Known by her first husband’s name, Campbell made her stage debut in 1888, driven by the need to provide money for her family. She achieved fame the year this photograph was taken, in the title role of Arthur Wing Pinero’s The Second Mrs Tanqueray, which premiered at the St James’s Theatre, London. Campbell played Paula Tanqueray, an ex-prostitute whose sympathetic treatment challenged the attitudes of the day. Great success followed, including acclaimed performances opposite Johnston Forbes-Robertson and, in 1914, as Eliza Doolittle in the original production of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.

    Frederick Hollyer (1838–1933) specialised in the photographic reproduction of works of art but reserved Mondays for portraiture. This softly lit and intimate portrait of Campbell has a rare delicacy and beauty, and is presented on one of Hollyer’s distinctive mounts.

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Events of 1893back to top

Current affairs

Keir Hardie is among the group who formalise the Independent Labour Party, and is elected chairman and party leader at the opening conference. Gladstone continues with his campaign for home rule in Ireland, introducing the Second Home Rule Bill, which is passed by the Commons but vetoed by the Lords.

Art and science

Art Nouveau becomes a fully established movement in European art and design, after emerging in different countries and across different disciplines at the start of the decade. Key figures include the illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, architects Victor Horta and Paul Hankar, and the designer Alphonse Mucha. Art Nouveau is characterised by the 'whiplash' line, a decorative line which represents graphically the desire to break free from traditional aesthetic constraints.


Gandhi's ejection from a South African train carriage on account of his race is the catalyst for his non-violent activism in leading the struggle for Indian independence from British rule.
New Zealand becomes the first self-governing country to grant women the vote.
The Chicago World's Fair is visited by more than 200 million people, with Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse introducing electrical power to illuminate the fair.

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