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Marie Effie (née Wilton), Lady Bancroft

2 of 31 portraits of Marie Effie (née Wilton), Lady Bancroft

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Marie Effie (née Wilton), Lady Bancroft

by Herbert Watkins
Albumen print with arched top, late 1850s
7 1/2 in. x 6 in. (192 mm x 152 mm)
NPG P301(68)

Inscriptionback to top

Inscr. on mount in pencil lower right: ‘Miss Marie Wilton / as Julia Mannering’

This portraitback to top

This is one of three images of Marie Wilton before she married Squire Bancroft, in an album compiled by the photographer comprising a series of photographs of famous personalities: see NPG Portrait Set ‘The Watkins album: photographs by Herbert Watkins, late 1850s’. They date from Marie’s debut season at the Lyceum Theatre, London in autumn 1856, aged 17. All three show her in theatrical costume. In the others she is identified as Perdita (NPG P301(70)) and the boy Henri (NPG P301(69)); here the role is identified as that of Julia Mannering, who appears in the drama Guy Mannering, [1] although the sitter is not recorded in this part and the costume has the air of a stage shepherdess. The three photographs appear to have been taken at the same time, however, so the costume possibly relates to a second outfit for Perdita.

Herbert Watkins published the series with printed biographies under the title National Gallery of Photographic Portraits. The photographer claimed in his advertisements that his photographs were ‘as remarkable for their agreeable fidelity to nature as for their brilliancy of production and their economy of cost’.

The Watkins album was sent by Phillip Walker, its then owner, to Christie’s, 27 June 1985 (169), but it failed to reach the reserve price of £2,000–3,000. Walker then offered it to the National Portrait Gallery and it was purchased for £1,024. Giving what little he knew of the provenance, he wrote: ‘I am afraid the album had been through other, antique trade, hands before I acquired it so my information about it is indirect. I was told that it had lain, with many other papers, on the floor of the scullery of a Norfolk farm house – hence its very damp condition. The papers were said to have belonged to a Mr Raghan, who had died in his 80s, and who had been in the theatrical world in some capacity.’ [2] The album remains in a very fragile condition.

Dr Jan Marsh

Footnotesback to top

1) Marie Wilton played the role of Flora in a production of Guy Mannering at the Adelphi Theatre in 1858, but not in 1856.
2) Letter from P. Walker to K.K. Yung, 26 Sept. 1985, NPG RP P301.

Physical descriptionback to top

Whole-length to front, standing, in theatrical costume.

Provenanceback to top

Purchased 1985, in album.

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