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Sir Coutts Lindsay, 2nd Bt

4 of 114 portraits by Julia Margaret Cameron

Sir Coutts Lindsay, 2nd Bt, by Julia Margaret Cameron, circa 1865 -NPG P52 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Sir Coutts Lindsay, 2nd Bt

by Julia Margaret Cameron
Albumen print, circa 1865
10 in. x 7 7/8 in. (254 mm x 200 mm)
NPG P52

Inscriptionback to top

Mount signed in ink lower right: ‘Julia Margaret Cameron’;
and inscr. in pencil lower centre: ‘Sir Coutts Lindsay’.
Colnaghi blind stamp removed from work by NPG.

This portraitback to top

This is one of three images taken and printed by the photographer at Little Holland House, the Kensington home of her sister Sara Prinsep. A duplicate print is inscribed ‘Lawn of Little Holland House 1865 / Sir Coutts Lindsay’.[1] All three images were probably taken outdoors in May 1865, when Cameron established a temporary studio at the house in order to photograph celebrities in the art world; other sitters included Coutts’s younger brother, Col. Robert Loyd-Lindsay, and his wife Harriet, Robert Browning, William Michael Rossetti and Henry Cole, to whom Cameron wrote that in one day she had taken twelve portraits.[2] This image and one variant were registered for copyright on 19 July 1865.[3] The variant full-profile image (see ‘All known portraits, Photographs, 1865 (b)’) is included in an album containing 142 prints given to Lindsay by Cameron, inscribed ‘For / Sir Coutts Lindsay / Every Photograph in this Book is from Life and is Printed as well as taken by / Julia Margaret Cameron’.[4]

Sitter and artist were socially well acquainted and Lindsay was a long-standing admirer of Cameron’s sister Virginia, Countess Somers. Here he is depicted in Cameron’s favoured soft-focus close-up mode against an indistinct background, wrapped in a velvet cloak that suggests a romantic poet/artist and ‘marks him as bohemian’.[5] Lindsay was accustomed to dressing ‘in costume’: he once attended a ball as Van Dyck, and around the same time as the present work he sat to David Wilkie Wynfield wearing what may have been ancestral armour (see ‘All known portraits, Photographs, early 1860s’). In other respects his appearance here accords with descriptions in the year of his marriage (1864) by his wife’s aunt, Charlotte de Rothschild, who wrote: ‘Sir Coutts has very handsome features and a decidedly agreeable expression, but he is very peculiar-looking, his hair being perfectly grey.’ She added that he ‘talked of nothing but art and pictures’.[6]

According to Rideal:

it is strange how much more ‘painterly’ the photograph of Sir Coutts Lindsay appears when compared with the watercolour [NPG 2729] … Here in order to create a feeling of timelessness, [Cameron] has swathed her subject in rich velvet, the texture becoming more evident as the light rakes across the front folds, pulling our eyes back into the depths of the image. Underneath this lush cloak shines a white collar, revealing beneath it a more delicate and youthful neck than the stiff, peach-coloured trunk suggested in the watercolour. Lindsay’s light tousled hair, with its unruly curls, sweeps back to reveal a wide and deeply furrowed brow. He has the same distant, abstracted gaze as in the watercolor, and below the dignified, quasi-military moustache his chin is rigidly set.[7]

Other prints are Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 45.131; Getty Center, Los Angeles, Overstone Album, 84.xz.186.11; and UCLA, 98 Cameron.

Dr Jan Marsh

Footnotesback to top

1) Cox & Ford 2003, no.707; see also nos 708 and 709.
2) Olsen 2003, p.177.
3) Reg. for copyright 1865 July 19: National Archives (COPY 1/9).
4) Cox & Ford 2003, p.504.
5) Surtees 1993, p.132.
6) Letters from Charlotte de Rothschild to Caroline Blanche FitzRoy, 13 May and 6 June 1864; quoted Surtees 1993, pp.106, 107. See also her remarks on 19 Oct. that ‘his complexion is so much clearer and fairer and he is now so scrupulously clean’; quoted Surtees 1993, p.118.
7) Rideal 1991, p.14.

Physical descriptionback to top

Quarter-length, near-profile to left, with fair tousled hair, moustache, cloak wrapped around body.

Provenanceback to top

Bought from Sotheby’s, 21 Mar. 1975 (327), ‘from a scrapbook of Lady Marianne Talbot’.

Exhibitionsback to top

Double Take, NPG, London, 1991 and UK tour 1992–4.

Grosvenor Gallery: A Palace of Art in Victorian England, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven; Denver Art Museum; and Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1996 (9).

Reproductionsback to top

Hallé 1909, p.100a (halftone).

Rideal 1991, p.14.

Surtees 1993, pl.12

Casteras & Denney 1996, p.192.

Reproductions of other prints of this image
Weaver 1986, p.72 (from Overstone Album print).

View all known portraits for Julia Margaret Cameron

View all known portraits for Sir Coutts Lindsay, 2nd Bt