Wilfrid Scawen Blunt
Shelfmark: Add. MSS 54085B
Photographer: Lady Alice Mary Kerr (d. 1892)
'Portrait of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, early 1860s'
This strikingly intense portrait of the poet, diplomat, hedonist and anti-imperialist Wilfrid Scawen Blunt was taken by Lady Alice Mary Kerr, a member of his social circle and daughter of the 7th Marquess of Lothian.
Little is known of Kerr’s photographic activities or connections, but this image in particular identifies her as a remarkably skilled portrait photographer.
The notebook in which this portrait is contained also includes a number of studies of Blunt’s sister Alice, dressed to illustrate historical and literary figures such as Joan of Arc and the Lady of Shallot.
‘Now that's what I call a jackpot picture - a good face, the simplicity of black and white, direct eye contact, nothing extraneous, and an intense, intelligent expression. The portrait would probably have required a long exposure and I think this gives the face an added intensity as does the very shallow depth of field - only the face is in focus really. The defiance and contrariness which got Scawen Blunt into endless trouble in his later life is clearly visible.’