Ellen Terry's Costume
Terry as Lady Macbeth
-- American painter
London / jamienaish's
image to step
got to the Pre-Raphael Brotherhood was with his paintings of the famous
actress, Dame Ellen Terry (1847–1928) as Lady Macbeth after the first
in the role; and yet this is not at all an allegorical painting, just a
straight portrait of the actress in costume playing Lady Macbeth.
the tone, the costume, the medieval implications are very much in theme
with Edward Burne-Jones and the Aesthetic
In a letter to Mrs.
Jack Gardner, whom he had painted the year before in Boston, he
of this painting.
In her own
talks about the painting and the dress:
Jan. 1st, '89.
Am I in
conclusion that I forgot my friends? I should dislike such a reputation
and being a very bad correspondent I seem to invite it. Horrible
It shows the utter insanity of logical inferences.
of the people
whom I am painting now, so I shall talk shop. Henschel, Miss Huxley, Ellen Terry;
if you can
say one is painting, when sittings resolve themselves into sitting by
fire or at the patio with lamps at two in the afternoon. There might be
Eiffel here with studios at the top. Miss Terry has just come out
Lady Macbeth and looks magnificent in it, but she has not yet made up
mind to let me paint her in one of the dresses until she is quite
that she is a success. From a pictorial point of view there can be no
about it – magenta hair!
I am going
Paris in the
Spring for the Jury of ‘89 and to paint a portrait or two. Will you be
there in March or April?
greatest triumphs was my Lady Macbeth dress, which she carried out from
Mrs. Cosmyn Carr.
to think it is immortalised in Sargent's picture. From the first
I knew that picture was going to be splendid. In my diary for
I was always writing about it:
From: Tate Gallery
me is nearly
finished, and I think it is magnificent. The green and blue of
dress is splendid, and the expression as Lady Macbeth holds the
over her head is quite wonderful . . ."
picture is almost
finished, and it really is splendid. Burne-Jones
yesterday suggested two or three alterations about the colour which
immediately adopted, but Burne Jones raves about the picture . . ."
picture is talked
of everywhere and quarrelled about as much as my way of playing the
. . ."
the New Gallery is a great success. The picture is the sensation
of the year. Of course, opinions differ about it, but there are
crowds round it day after day."
over the whole of Europe and is now resting for life in the Tate
Sargent suggested by this picture all that I should have liked to be
to convey in my acting as Lady Macbeth.
Terry Tribute Page)
(14-Nov-2001) . . . He invented
dramatic pose, which did not occur in the production. Oscar Wilde, who
saw Terry’s arrival at Sargent’s Chelsea studio, remarked, ‘The street
that on a wet and dreary morning has vouchsafed the vision of Lady
in full regalia magnificently seated in a four-wheeler can never again
be as other streets: it must always be full of wonderful
Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth (sketch)
Alice Ellen Terry
by John Singer Sargent
Portrait Gallery, London
x 71.1 cm (33 1/2
x 28 in.)