Sunday, 5 December 2021

Sunday 5th December - The Honourable Edith Helen Chaplin (1878-1959)

 I'm up especially early this morning as we have a food delivery coming which is very exciting as no-one here can go out for another week so it's good to know that more food and drugs are on their way, somewhen between 6am and 7am.  In the meantime I thought I'd find a really gorgeous image for today's post...

The Honourable Edith Helen Chaplin (1913) Philip Alexius de Laszlo

The full title is The Honourable Edith Helen Chaplin (1878-1959), Marchioness of Londonderry, DBE, with her favourite greyhound 'Fly', which is quite a title and doesn't cover the half of it, quite honestly as, I would argue, this painting marks a point after which her position and that of her husband, becomes far more complex.  Ah, the simplicity of Edwardian aristocracy.  I have the urge to finish this post and watch The Shooting Party which I thoroughly recommend (yes, yes, read the book as well, but you probably won't be able to managed that in a couple of hours, or in a triple bill with Downton Abbey and Gosford Park). Anyway, the lovely Marchioness is pictured here when she was still simply a massively posh member of the British aristocracy, married to Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh. This portrait is typical of luxurious works of this time, harking back to the golden age of privilege portraiture from artists such as Gainsborough or Sir Sloshua Reynolds.  From her velvet dress to the beautiful Fly, who is not off to any dog tracks any time soon, thank you very much, this is a life dripping with money and influence.  De Laszlo's portraits of women are always so elegant, and I think Fly is perfect as that dog has got willowy legs (no doubt much like the Marchioness).  Look at Fly's little face!

I'm amazed by the character expressed in the eyes, bright and intelligent, possibly a reflection of his mistress.  De Laszlo does such fluidly elegant paintings, and understood the upper echelons of society, after marrying Lucy Guinness, which is not too shabby for a poor lad from Budapest. Actually the Marchioness was a hands-on, practical woman, famous now for her magnificent garden at Mount Stewart in County Down, now a National Trust property. She was active during the First World War after being appointed Colonel in Chief of the Women's Volunteer Reserve, and appearing in The Sketch in 1918 with another four pawed friend...

This dog is sadly unnamed but the accompanying article notes that the Marchioness, like her father, loves dogs and sport and this German Shepherd dog (probably called an Alsatian at this point, I'm guessing) was one of her favourites.  Lord Londonderry's admiration for all things German removed him from influence around the late 1930s (his Wikipedia page is an interesting read for those who know Remains of the Day) but after his death in 1949, the Marchioness left her garden to the nation, still open for visitors today.

See you all tomorrow...

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Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx