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Camille Clifford (Camilla Antoinette Clifford)

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Camille Clifford (Camilla Antoinette Clifford)

by Bassano Ltd
bromide print, 1906
8 in. x 6 in. (204 mm x 152 mm) overall
Purchased, 1996
Photographs Collection
NPG x83027

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Bassano Ltd (active 1901-1962), Photographers. Artist associated with 42745 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Fashion Icons, p. 5, 124 Read entry

    Camille Clifford, known as 'The Gibson Girl', was a popular Edwardian actress whose nickname derived from her resemblance to the women drawn by the American artist Charles Dana Gibson (1867–1944). She first came to London in 1904 and two years later played the Duchess of Dunmow in Leslie Stuart's The Belle of Mayfair. Alexander Bassano's (1829–1913) studio photographed Clifford in the same year at 25 Old Bond Street. Her statuesque appearance is emphasised here by her full coiffure, plumed hat and sweeping train. The 'S' shape of her silhouette is accentuated by a tight corset, resulting in an exaggeration of feminine curves.

  • Pepper, Terence, High Society: Photographs 1897-1914, 1998 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 30 January to 21 June 1998), p. 69 Read entry

    Arriving in London from New York, Camille Clifford became an overnight sensation when she appeared in a small non-speaking part as a ‘Gibson Girl’ in The Prince of Pilsen at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1904. Her statuesque appearance was emphasised by her full coiffeur, enormous plumed hat and sweeping train. The S-bend shape of her silhouette, with a 14-inch waist created with the help of tight corsets, perfectly represented the ideal figure of American girlhood as portrayed in the humorous drawings of the American artist Charles Dana Gibson; in fact, Clifford was born in Antwerp, to Irish-Scandinavian parents. Her marriage in 1906 to an army officer, the Hon. Henry Lyndhurst Bruce, had been vigorously opposed by Lord Aberdare, the groom’s father, but he relented after meeting the bride. Bruce died in the first month of the war without inheriting his father’s title. Clifford briefly reappeared on stage in 1916 but later married Brigadier John Meredith Evans and retired to the country to breed racehorses.

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Events of 1906back to top

Current affairs

The Liberals, led by Henry Campbell-Bannerman under a promise of reform, win a landslide victory in the general election. Electors vote to end two decades dominated by Conservative rule, with disaffection mounting over the conflict in South Africa and party division over education and tariff reform. The LRC continue to grow as a political force, winning 29 seats and changing their name later this year to the Labour Party.

Art and science

Ralph Vaughan Williams edits The English Hymnal, a collection of the best in English-language hymns. Published by the Church of England, it became one of the most popular and influential hymn books in the world.
Antoni Gaudí completes his rebuilding of the Casa Batllo in Barcelona. Known locally as the 'casa dels ossos', or 'House of Bones', the building is striking for its use of curved stonework, oval windows and intricate tracery.

International

San Francisco is devastated by an earthquake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, leading to the greatest loss of life from a natural disaster in Californian history. The impact itself and resulting fire lead to the death of over 3,000 people, and over half of the city's 400,000 population were left homeless. Although still a major city, the earthquake directs trade, industry and population south to Los Angeles.

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