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Lady Ottoline Morrell

Lady Ottoline Morrell, by Augustus John, 1919 - NPG 6095 - © Estate of Augustus John / Bridgeman Images

© Estate of Augustus John / Bridgeman Images

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Lady Ottoline Morrell

by Augustus John
oil on canvas, 1919
27 1/8 in. x 20 1/8 in. (690 mm x 511 mm)
Accepted in lieu of tax by H.M. Government and allocated to the Gallery, 1990
Primary Collection
NPG 6095

Sitterback to top

  • Lady Ottoline Morrell (1873-1938), Patron of the arts; half-sister of 6th Duke of Portland; wife of Philip Edward Morrell. Sitter associated with 596 portraits, Artist associated with 1715 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Augustus Edwin John (1878-1961), Painter. Artist associated with 33 portraits, Sitter in 103 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Lady Ottoline Morrell, the chatelaine of Garsington Manor outside Oxford, was a ferocious socialite, friend and lover of artists and writers, including Augustus John, whom she first met in 1906 and with whom she had a brief affair in 1908. He began this portrait in 1918. When it was exhibited in 1920, most people were critical of it. The Star called it a 'grotesque travesty of artistocratic, almost imbecile hauteur'. The Manchester Guardian, however, recognized its merits: '... an ideal portrait in the Johnian sense in the way that it makes life more exciting and fantastic and unlikely'. Lady Otttoline herself liked it and hung it over the mantelpiece in the drawing room of her London house. It is well described by Michael Holroyd in his biography of Augustus John: 'Her head, under its flamboyant topsail of a hat, is held at a proud angle and she wears, like rigging, several strings of pearls (painted with the aid of tooth powder) above a bottle-green velvet dress. Her eyes are rolled sideways in their sockets like those of a runaway horse and her mouth bared soundlessly'.

Linked publicationsback to top

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1919back to top

Current affairs

Sir John William Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown pilot the first successful non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Ireland, flying 1980 miles in their modified Vickers Vimy bomber plane in just over 16 hours. Their achievement won them a £10,000 prize from the Daily Mail newspaper.

Art and science

John Maynard Keynes publishes The Economic Consequences of the Peace, an influential economic text that criticised the harsh economic treatment of Germany at the Treaty of Versailles and predicted the destabilising effects of the vindictive settlement.


The Paris Peace Conference negotiates the peace treaties between the victorious and defeated powers. The Conference culminated in a number of treaties including the Treaty of Versailles, which granted independence for the countries under Austrian and Russian rule and forced Germany to accept responsibility for the war and pay reparations. It also established the League of Nations.

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