Madame Schmidt as Madame Pierrot; Jane May as Pierrot Junior; Monsieur Courtès as Pierrot Senior in 'L'enfant Prodigue'

1 portrait by Alfred Ellis

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Madame Schmidt as Madame Pierrot; Jane May as Pierrot Junior; Monsieur Courtès as Pierrot Senior in 'L'enfant Prodigue'

by Alfred Ellis, published by Eglington & Co
carbon print, published 1 June 1891
4 5/8 in. x 3 3/8 in. (116 mm x 87 mm) image size
Purchased, 1984
Photographs Collection
NPG Ax28822

Sittersback to top

Artistsback to top

  • Eglington & Co, Photographers. Artist or producer associated with 285 portraits.
  • Alfred Ellis (1854-1930), Photographer. Artist or producer associated with 186 portraits.

Events of 1891back to top

Current affairs

The Irish Nationalist leader Charles Parnell is forced to resign after being named in the divorce proceedings brought by William O'Shea against his wife Kitty, who had been Parnell's mistress for a decade. The scandal severely damages the campaign for the Home Rule Bill, contributing greatly to its subsequent failure. Parnell's health also suffered; he contracted rheumatic fever and died a few months after resigning.

Art and science

Thomas Hardy's publishes Tess of the D'Urbervilles, a tragedy which explores the consequences of the young Tess's seduction by the wealthy Alec D'Urberville. In the novel, Hardy sets forward his major concerns about the individual's powerlessness before fate, whilst radically critiquing the hypocritical double standards of contemporary morals.


The construction of Trans-Siberian railway, the longest single rail system in Russia, begins in the Urals and at Vladivostock. Running between Moscow and Vladivostock, work was completed in 1917.
The German aviation pioneer Otto Lilenthal takes off in the first glider from a hill near Potsdam, the first of many guided flights and an important step in the development of aerial technology.

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Alan Garner

16 June 2017, 23:50

The French actress Jane May, was born, apparently in the mid 1860s, in Paris. She studied at the Paris Conservatoire and made her debut about 1879 at the Gymnase Théâtre as Geneviève in Edouard Pailleron's L'Age Ingrat. Her first of many appearances in London took place in 1884 at the Royalty Theatre as Suzanne in Le Monde on L'On S'Ennuie. She was again in London in 1891 for several matinee performances, beginning on 15 April, at the Prince of Wales's Theatre for L'Enfant Prodigue, a musical play without words in which she played Pierrot junior. Other members of the cast included V. Courtès as Pierrot senior and Francesca Zanfretta as Phrynette. The success of this led to Mme May's solo performances in Monsieur et Madame Pierrot, a pantomimic piece by Jean Hubert, with music by Alfred Bert, in which she played both title roles. This was during a special French season at the Royalty Theatre in May 1897. L'Enfant Prodigue was again produced in London for fifteen matinee performances at the Lyric in April 1900, with most of the old cast, with the exception of Ethel Ross-Selwicke who replaced Francesca Zanfretta as Phrynette. Jane May reappeared in London from the middle of December 1905 to the middle of March 1906 for a guest appearance in the ballet Parisiana at the Alhambra, Leicester Square. Later in her career she is said to have transferred her allegiance from the stage to the cinema.

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