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Oil painting - Helen Euphrosyne Ionides
  • Helen Euphrosyne Ionides
    Watts, George Frederic OM, RA, born 1817 - died 1904
  • Enlarge image

Helen Euphrosyne Ionides

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (painted)

  • Date:

    1881 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Watts, George Frederic OM, RA, born 1817 - died 1904 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Helen Ionides (1871-1967), known as ‘Lallie’, was the sixth child of Constantine Ionides and his wife Agathonike.

Physical description

Half-length, nearly full face portrait of a little brown0eyed, brown-haired girl standing and looking towards the viewer with her head inclined slightly to the viewer's left. her dark green hat is red at the top, and a red ribbon appears on either side of the head; the dress is dark green.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (painted)


1881 (painted)


Watts, George Frederic OM, RA, born 1817 - died 1904 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

G F. Watts / 1881
Signed in the lower left-hand corner


Height: 60.7 cm estimate, Width: 50.5 cm estimate, Height: 912 mm Frame, Width: 810 mm Frame, Depth: 65 mm Frame, :

Object history note

Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides, 1900. However, it was stipulated in the will that this, along with 19 other family portraits, should stay in the family until the death of his wife - she died in 1920 when the paintings were received by the museum.

Historical significance: George Frederick Watts was born on 23 September, 1817. He received no regular schooling on account of poor health, but later studied under the sculptor William Behnes and entered the R.A schools in 1835. In 1837 he achieved recognition for The Wounded Heron (Compton Watts Gal.), exhibited at the R.A. Watts won a prize of £300 for his painting Caractacus in the 1843 Westminster Hall competition. He went to Florence until 1847, where he worked under the patronage of Lady Holland. On his return to England, Watts won a further prize of £500 in the Westminster Hall competition for his Alfred inciting the Saxons to prevent the landing of the Danes. Inspired by Michelangelo and with his reputation now firmly established, Watts was determined to devote himself to grand, universal themes such as Faith; Hope; Charity; Love and Life; and Love and Death. However he rose to front rank as a portrait painter and painted of his many eminent contemporaries including Thomas Carlyle, John Stuart Mill, William Gladstone and John Everett Millais. He was elected to the A.R.A and R.A in 1867. In 1864 he married 16-year-old Ellen Terry and painted a charming allegorical portrait of her, Choosing, but the couple separated the following year. A major late sculpture, Physical Energy (1904, London, Kensington Gardens) is surprisingly modernistic. Watts presented many of his works to art galleries and institutions. He died on 1 July, 1904.

Helen Ionides (1871-1967) was the sixth of eight children of Constantine Alexander Ionides, donor of the V&A's Ionides collection, and his wife Agathonike. In this portrait the little girl is dressed in a simple dark green dress which highlights the bright red ribbon on her hat. During a lifelong friendship, G. F. Watts painted over fifty members of the Ionides family spread over five generations. From 1880-1881 Constantine Alexander commissioned Watts to paint a series of family portraits of himself (CAI 1141), his wife (CAI 1142) and his three daughters Euterpe (CAI 1143), Helen or 'Lallie', and Zoe (CAI 1145). Helen worked as a nurse in the territorial army during the First World War for which she received an MBE.
The frame was designed by G. F. Watts. The portrait entered the V&A collection in 1920 after the death of Agathonike Ionides.

Historical context note

The frame was designed by G. F. Watts

Descriptive line

Oil painting on canvas, 'Helen Euphrosyne Ionides', George Frederick Watts, 1881


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting


Portraits; Paintings


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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