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Silvia Constance Myers; Eveleen Myers (née Tennant)

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Silvia Constance Myers; Eveleen Myers (née Tennant)

by Eveleen Myers (née Tennant)
platinum print, circa 1900
9 4/4 in. x 7 1/2 in. (247 mm x 192 mm)
Purchased, 1991
Photographs Collection
NPG Ax68522

Sittersback to top

  • Eveleen Myers (née Tennant) (1856-1937), Photographer. Sitter associated with 30 portraits, Artist associated with 203 portraits.
  • Silvia Constance Myers (1883-1957), Daughter of Eveleen Myers. Sitter associated with 44 portraits, Artist of 1 portrait.

Artistback to top

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rideal, Liz, Mirror Mirror: Self-portraits by Women Artists, 2001 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 12 September 2001 to 20 January 2002), p. 51 Read entry

    Like many photographic self-portraits, for example Helen Chadwick's, this image was self-evidently staged and it is clear that Eveleen Myers organised the pose and setting in addition to the inclusion of her only daughter in the portrait. It may be that it was a specific occasion she wished to record, as this is one of several images and Eveleen's gown is clearly very special. Deenagh Goold-Adams, Eveleen's granddaughter, wrote the following about her grandmother in her later life:

    she concocted her own hats much as a bird builds a nest but with considerable artistry

    She never threw anything away and revived ancient confections by the famous 'Lucille' by sewing on new furbelows ... She had something which is described in the jargon of today as 'star quality' and I am sure she would have been noticed in any age and in any walk of life.

    (Typescript with Myers papers, Trinity College, Cambridge)

    Eveleen Myers, née Tennant, was the youngest of three sisters, born in Russell Square, London. Following her marriage in 1880 to the writer Frederic Myers (1843-1901), she moved to Leckhampton House, Cambridge, which had been especially designed for the couple by the architect William Marshall. As a young girl she was actively involved in the salon society of her family, and her mother introduced her to artists, writers and political figures. Both she and her sister Dorothy were painted by Sir John Everett Millais and George Frederic Watts (1817-1904) in works that were exhibited at the Royal Academy. Eveleen visited the Isle of Wight as a child and sat to the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-79). This occasion obviously made an impression as in 1888, ostensibly in order to record the childhood of her sons Leopold and Harold, she took up photography. She also owned original prints by Cameron. It is possible that she wished to make a portrait together with her elder child and only daughter to complement the series of her younger children. It is a perfectly poignant moment in time, utterly nostalgic and autobiographical: a mother and daughter.

    Myers showed her work at the Linked Ring Salon in the 1890s and four of her works were illustrated in photogravure in the 1891 issue of Sun Artists. But after her husband died in 1901, Myers left their Cambridge home with her darkroom and studio and gave up photography. In 1991 the National Portrait Gallery acquired two of her personal albums, thereby enhancing an earlier collection of portraits which includes those of Robert Browning and W. E. Gladstone. Myers' work was featured, along with that of Olive Edis, in an exhibition at the Gallery entitled Edwardian Women Photographers in 1994.

Placesback to top

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1900back to top

Current affairs

The Conservatives return to power, after the Prime Minister Lord Salisbury calls a general election, known as the 'Khaki election', on the back of huge jingoistic support for the Boer War.
The Labour Representation Committee (LRC) is founded from a coalition of socialist groups; they win two seats in the 1900 election and Ramsay Macdonald is appointed secretary. The Labour politician Keir Hardie is also returned to Parliament for Merthyr Tydfilin Wales.

Art and science

German physicist Max Planck proposes the concept of the quantum theory. Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams is published. In the text, Freud outlines his theory of dream analysis, crucial to the study of the unconscious, and introduces key concepts in psychoanalysis, such as the Ego.
The Paris International Exhibition, attended by more than 50 million people and including over 76,000 exhibitors, marks the heyday of Art Nouveau.

International

In China the Boxer rebellion takes place. The Boxers were anti-imperialist and against foreign influence in trade, religion, politics and technology in the final years of the Manchu rule. The Boxers invade Beijing, killing 230 foreigners and Chinese Christians. The rebellion is suppressed by a multinational coalition of 20,000 troops, with China being forced to pay large war reparations, contributing to growing nationalist resentment against the Qing dynasty.

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