Past display archive
5 December 2011 - 12 August 2012
Violet Manners, Duchess of Rutland
after Violet Manners, Duchess of Rutland
The ‘Souls’ were a sophisticated set of young aristocrats and society debutantes, who were drawn together by a shared interest in erudite conversation and high-spirited wit in the last two decades of the nineteenth century. Counting amongst their number many brilliant young politicians, such as Arthur Balfour MP, later Conservative Prime Minister, a pivotal figure in the group, and the charismatic daughters of prominent families, the ‘Souls’ had a powerful impact on British culture and society.
Focusing on portraits of key individuals, this display explores the group’s spiritual affinity with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; in particular their support and close friendship with the artist, Edward Burne-Jones. Patrons and sitters for his work, several of the female ‘Souls’ inspired his depictions of nymphs and sirens. Featuring a range of prints and photographs, the display showcases the fine portrait studies of the group made by a leading ‘Soul’ – Violet Manners, Duchess of Rutland. An influential aristocrat and talented artist, Violet not only embraced the aesthetic lifestyle advocated by the Pre-Raphaelites, but also had the features of a ‘Burne-Jones Medusa’.
© National Portrait Gallery, London
Listen to a series of podcasts exploring the lives of pioneering women, past and present.
William Eggleston was closely associated with the alternative music scene in Memphis. Revisit our 2016 exhibition and listen to a special playlist.
Links to audio and transcripts of interviews with artists, sitters and historic recordings.
- Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour
- Henry John Cockayne ('Harry') Cust
- Emmeline Mary Elizabeth ('Nina') Cust (née Welby-Gregory)
- William Henry Grenfell, Baron Desborough
- Ethel Anne Priscilla ('Ettie') Grenfell (née Fane), Lady Desborough
- Frances Jane Horner (née Graham), Lady Horner
- Hon. Alfred Lyttelton
- Dame Edith Sophy Lyttelton (née Balfour)
- (William) St John Fremantle Brodrick, 1st Earl of Midleton
- Robert George Windsor-Clive, 1st Earl of Plymouth
- Hugo Richard Charteris, 11th Earl of Wemyss
- Mary Constance Charteris (née Wyndham), Countess of Wemyss
- Guy Percy Wyndham