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Lily Elsie

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Lily Elsie

by Rita Martin
bromide print, 1907
10 1/2 in. x 7 3/4 in. (265 mm x 197 mm)
Purchased, 1980
Primary Collection
NPG P151

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Rita Martin (1875-1958), Photographer. Artist or producer associated with 310 portraits, Sitter in 6 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This print belonged to Cecil Beaton who kept it on his desk and described the sitter as 'the drenchingly lovely Miss Lily Elsie'.

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Events of 1907back to top

Current affairs

Robert Baden Powell, a former lieutenant-general in the British Army, forms the Boy Scout Movement after holding a camp on Brownsea Island for a group of twenty-two boys of mixed social background. Baden Powell was inspired after finding that his 1903 military training manual Aids to Scouting had become a bestseller, and was being used by teachers and youth workers. The Scout movement has become a Worldwide phenomenon, with over 38 million members in 216 countries.

Art and science

The poet, author and critic Edmund Gosse publishes his autobiography Father and Son, an account of his relationship with his devout Christian father, the zoologist Phillip Gosse. Edmund's detailing of his loss of faith is a reflection on the Victorian age itself.
Anna Pavlova first dances The Dying Swan, choreographed by Michel Fokine to music by Camille Saint-Saens, at a charity performance.


America is gripped by a financial crisis as a collapse of trust companies causes panic amongst shareholders.
Aged twenty, the Swiss architect Le Corbusier, one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century architecture, designs his first house at La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland.

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Randy Bryan Bigham

24 August 2015, 16:39

Another published reference for this photo is: The Sketch (Supplement), 27 November 1912, "Charming in Chinchilla: The Lily Elsie That Was," . 3.

Randy Bryan Bigham, author Lucile: Her Life by Design

21 August 2015, 03:08

This photo was not taken in 1907. It was taken in Fall 1912, as evidenced by original drawings of the dress design in the Lucile Archive, National Art Library, V&A Museum, one of which was published in Lucile Ltd by Amy de la Haye and Valerie Mendes (V&A: 2009), p. 186. The original of the signed copy of the photo reproduced in the above cited volume, inscribed "for Xmas and 1913," was originally published in Discretions and Indiscretions by Lucy (Lady) Duff Gordon (Jarrolds: 1932), facing p. 110. Another pose of Lily Elsie in the same Lucile dress was featured in Femina magazine (15 March 1913), p. 150, further solidifying the design's (and the image's) Fall-Winter 1912-13 creation

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