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London

National Portrait Gallery

Exhibition Detail
Beautiful Souls
St Martin's Place
London WC2H 0HE
United Kingdom


December 5th, 2011 - August 12th, 2012
Opening: 
June 22nd, 2012 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
 
Helen (née Duncombe), Viscountess D\'Abernon; Hermione (née Duncombe), Duchess of Leinster, James Lafayette (James Stack Lauder)James Lafayette (James Stack Lauder),
Helen (née Duncombe), Viscountess D'Abernon; Hermione (née Duncombe), Duchess of Leinster,
1888
© Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery
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> DESCRIPTION

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’.


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