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Wilfrid Scawen Blunt

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.

Albumen print

Jane Bown comments:

‘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.’

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