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Lady de Grey Photographic Collection

Collection: Lady de Grey Photographic Collection
Reference code: ROH/GRE
Date: 1878 - 1917
Date notes: It would appear that Lady de Grey collected the photographs and postcards between the early 1880s and 1913. The earliest dated photograph is 1883, although research suggests that some items could be a few years earlier. The latest dated photograph is 1913. It is likely that Lady de Grey put the photographs and postcards into the two albums during World War I, when the Royal Opera House was closed and travel to Europe was difficult. Evidence for this is that the albums do not run chronologically, that her captions are in the same handwriting and pen, and in the past tense. Lady de Grey died in 1917.
Level: Fonds
Extent: 8 boxes containing 116 sepia photographic prints, 36 black and white photographic prints, 2 colour-tinted photographic prints, 15 sepia postcards, 6 black and white postcards, 1 paper postcard, 1 sketch, 1 magazine cutting, and 2 newspaper cuttings
Scope and content: Portraits of people in the arts, many signed and inscribed by the subject. The majority are studio portraits. There are two amateur 'snapshots' and two other outdoor photographs. Lady de Grey wrote captions under most of the images. The people depicted are:
Singers: Emma Albani, Albert Alvarez, Max Alvary, Mario Ancona, Giuseppe Anselmi, Alessandro Bonci, Hans Breuer, Alois Burgstaller, Emma Calvé, Enrico Caruso, Lina Cavalieri, Féodor Chaliapine, Emmy Destinn, Ernest Van Dyck, Emma Eames, Fritz Friedrichs, Julián Gayarre, Jeanne Granier, Jacques Isnardon, Roxo Betty Kalisch, Jean Lassalle, Julius Lieban, Fernando de Lucia, Victor Maurel, Nellie Melba, Alice Nielsen, Lillian Nordica, Marguerite Zinah de Nuovina, Adelina Patti, Pol Plançon, Margaret Reed, Marie Renard, Edouard de Reszke, Jean de Reszke, Renée Richard, Anton van Rooy, Titta Ruffo, Albert Saleza, Sibyl Sanderson, Karl Scheidemantel, Antonio Scotti, Rosa Sucher, Francesco Tamagno, Heinrich Vogl, and Marie Van Zandt.
Composers: Herman Bemberg, Arrigo Boito, Cécile Chaminade, Mario Pasquale Costa, Gabriel Fauré, Charles-François Gounod, Reynaldo Hahn, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Pietro Mascagni, Giacomo Puccini, Paul Alfred Rubens, Arthur Goring Thomas, Ambroise Thomas, and Francesco Paolo Tosti.
Conductors: Tymoteusz Adamowski, Ernesto Bevignani, Cleofonte Campanini, Luigi Mancinelli, Alberto Randegger, Hans Richter, and Anton Seidl.
Actors: Marie Effie Bancroft, Jeanne Bartet, Marthe Brandés, Lucien Guitry, Jane Hading, Cora Brown Potter, Gabrielle Réjane, and Ellen Terry.
Writers: Alexandre Dumas (fils), Victor Hugo, Edward Bulmer-Lytton, Arthur Wing Pinero, Ernest Renan, and Jean Porto-Rico.
Others: dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, artists Jean Béraud and Franz von Lenbach, impresarios Maurice Grau and Augustus Harris, musicians Mischa Elman and Joseph Hollman, opera director Pierre Gailhard, French statesman Léon Gambetta, mime artist Felicia Mallet, music publisher Tito Ricordi, members of the de Reszke family, and Lady de Grey herself.
Creator: Constance Gwladys (Lady de Grey) | Marchioness of Ripon Robinson
History/biography: Constance Gwladys Robinson, Marchioness of Ripon, was born the Honorable Constance Gwladys Herbert on 24 April 1859. She was the youngest daughter of Sidney Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Lea, and Mary Elizabeth A'Court-Repington. In 1878, Constance Gwladys Herbert married St George Henry Lowther, 4th Earl of Lonsdale (1855-1882), by whom she had one daughter, Lady Gladys Mary Juliet Lowther (1881-1965), known as Juliet. In 1885, Lady Lonsdale married Frederick Oliver Robinson, 4th Earl de Grey (1852-1923) and became Lady de Grey. When her husband became the 2nd Marquis of Ripon in 1909, she became Marchioness of Ripon (sometimes known as Lady Ripon).
Lady de Grey was a leading London hostess and member of the Prince of Wales’s circle. Through her influence, Augustus Harris was made manager of the Royal Italian Opera in 1888, and the theatre’s fortunes began to improve after a period of decline. Lady de Grey’s patronage gave her influence over all major decisions, including the commissioning of new operas, the engagement of singers, and the granting of box subscriptions. She supported Harris in his decision to introduce performances of opera in its native tongue (when previously all opera was performed in Italian translation); this led to the company being re-named the Royal Opera House in 1892.
Lady de Grey was friendly with many of the famous singers of the day. She was particularly close friends with Nellie Melba, whom she introduced to Covent Garden after seeing her perform at the Théâtre de la Monnaie. Following an unsuccessful début performance in 1888, Melba was initially reluctant to return, but with Lady de Grey’s persuasion she was encouraged to sing again a year later to great acclaim.
In 1901 Lord de Grey acquired Coombe Court at Kingston, one of his many residences. This venue became well-known for the dinner parties hosted by Lady de Grey, to which singers from the Royal Opera House and notable figures were invited. Invitations were sent long in advance to ensure she obtained her ideal choice of guests.
After seeing Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes in its debut in Paris in 1907, Lady de Grey was determined to bring the company to London, resulting in the historic season of Russian ballet at Covent Garden in 1911. It is said that Lady de Grey was present every time Nijinsky danced.
When the activities of the Royal Opera House were halted during World War I, Lady de Grey devoted her time instead to the King George Hospital, where she worked daily caring for injured servicemen. Shortly before her death on 27 October 1917, she was working to establish a scheme for the care of paralysed and disabled soldiers near their own homes.
Archival history: The two albums were in the possession of Lady de Grey's daughter, Juliet Trevor (by her second marriage - Lady Juliet Duff by her first). Upon Juliet's death in 1965, the albums passed to her son, Sir Michael Duff. That same year, he gave them to Desmond Shawe-Taylor, the music critic and author, who had been a close friend of his mother. Shawe-Taylor initially bequeathed the albums to the Royal Opera House, but in 1992 he deposited the collection after conservation work. The conservation, undertaken by Kate Colleran and Marcel Ciantar in 1990 and 1991, involved removing the items and Lady de Grey's captions from the albums and re-creating the pages on archival boards with mounts. The conservators took photographs of the original pages, which were deposited with the collection.
Source of acquisition: Transferred by Desmond Shawe-Taylor in 1992.
System of arrangement: Lady de Grey compiled her photographs and postcards in two large leather-bound albums. During conservation, the images and her captions were removed and mounted on archival board, following their layout in the albums. Each page became a separate mount. The mounts are stored in eight boxes in the order in which the pages appeared in the albums.
Access conditions: The collection is available for viewing in ROH Collections by appointment only.
Language: English; French; Italian; German; Russian
Copyright: Copies are available subject to the conditions of the originals and copyright restrictions.
Condition: Good. Most items are exhibiting foxing; a few photographs are faded.