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Elizabeth Bannister (née Harpur)

1 of 5 portraits of Elizabeth Bannister (née Harpur)

Elizabeth Bannister (née Harpur), by John Russell, 1799 -NPG 1770 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Elizabeth Bannister (née Harpur)

by John Russell
24 1/4 in. x 18 1/4 in. (616 mm x 464 mm)
NPG 1770

Inscriptionback to top

Signed and dated in red lower left: J. Russell RA pinxt 1799.

This portraitback to top

Family tradition did not record her role which could possibly represent her as 'Lucinda' in 1778 when 'from the blunder of some person whose business it was to have the guittar ready, she was much disconcerted when she had to sing the song, and was obliged, after sitting some time, to leave the stage while the instrument was put in tune behind the scenes' (Morning Chronicle, 11 September 1778); alternatives are as 'Olivia' in Twelfth Night where she was billed as 'with a song', or as 'The Lady' in Comus singing the song of 'Sweet Echo'. However she retired from the stage in 1792 so probably Russell's portrait, drawn in 1799, is simply a 'reminiscence'.

Physical descriptionback to top

Half-length to right wearing a white dress and diaphanous veil, playing a guitar with five strings; brown hair and eyes, aged 42 but looking younger.

Provenanceback to top

Family possession and bequeathed by her great-granddaughter, Grace Hilda Bannister; accepted April 1916; Miss Bannister died in Dresden 13 May 1915, the portrait together with that of Elizabeth's husband, Jack (NPG 1769), arriving in London in 1921.

Exhibitionsback to top

RA 1800 (658), together with NPG 1769 of Jack Bannister.

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

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