Not currently on display at the V&A

Louisa, Dowager Viscountess Wolseley

Oil Painting
1884 (painted)
Place Of Origin

Half length portrait, oil on canvas, depicting Louisa, Dowager Viscountess Wolseley

object details
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief Description
Portrait in oil depicting Louisa, Dowager Viscountess Wolseley by Julian Russell Story. Anglo-American, 1884.
Physical Description
Half length portrait, oil on canvas, depicting Louisa, Dowager Viscountess Wolseley
  • Estimate height: 24.25in
  • Estimate width: 18.125in
Dimensions taken from Summary catalogue of British Paintings, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973
Marks and Inscriptions
'Julian Story 1884' (Signed by the artist)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Louisa, Dowager Viscountess Wolseley
Object history
Bequeathed by Louisa, Dowager Viscountess Wolseley, 1920

Julian Russell Story was a painter who was best known as a society portraitist and was particularly well known in America. Story was born to American parents at Walton on Thames in 1857 and his father William Wetmore Story was a well known sculptor and author. Julian Story was educated in England, first at Eton and subsequently Oxford University from which he graduated in 1879. In the early 1880s Story lived in London and became friends with James Abbott McNeill Whistler, to whose studio he was a frequent visitor. Story thereafter headed to the Continent, studying art in Florence under Frank Duvenek, and under Gustave Boulanger and Jules-Joseph Lefebvre in Paris. He spent a number of years in Paris where he won awards, including a medal of Honour in 1887, a bronze medal in 1889, and a silver medal in 1900. In 1901 he was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. It was in Paris in 1889 that he met the American soprano Emma Eames during her operatic debut. They married in London in 1891. The pair were particularly well-known in America and attracted the attention of the press. It was reported that their marriage was a tumultuous one and it ended in a well-publicised divorce in 1907. In 1909 Story married divorcee Mrs Elaine Bohlen (née Sartori) with whom he had a son and two daughters. Story died of cancer in Philadelphia on 23rd February 1919. During his lifetime Story was a member of the Society of American Artists of New York and of the Society of Portrait Painters (London). He was made an Associate of the National Academy of Design, New York in 1906. Examples of his art are held in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Julian Story was successful as a portrait painter in both America and England and his patrons and sitters were generally from the upper echelons of society. He exhibited his work four times at the Royal Academy, London, displaying portraits on each occasion. In 1889 he exhibited a portrait of his father, William W. Story, Esq., and in 1890 another of Moro Phillips, Esq. In 1891 he exhibited Lord Vernon and in 1897, H. R. H. the Prince of Wales, K. G. (later King Edward VII). Story’s portraits were validations of the status of those depicted and often featured adornments denoting rank such as dress, jewellery or military decorations. His portraits convey a sense of superiority but are executed in a way that prevents their being too staid or formal. His use of light brushstrokes and the lack of an overly polished finish creates a degree of spontaneity and movement, adding an element of lightness to the portrait.

Louisa, Dowager Viscountess Wolseley (1843-1920), daughter of Alexander Erskine Esq. and wife of Garnet Joseph Wolseley, was painted by Story in 1884 when Garnet Wolseley was adjutant-general at the War Office. At this time Wolseley’s career was in its ascendancy. He had served in the Second Anglo-Burmese War, the Crimean War and India and had commanded at Canada, Asante and Natal. In 1895 he rose to become commander-in-chief of the British forces, a post he held until 1900. They were a powerful and important couple and illustrate the class of patrons that Story attracted. Garnet Wolseley and Louisa Erskine were married on 4th June 1867 and had one daughter, Frances Garnet Wolseley, who was born on 15 September 1872. Louisa Wolseley died in April 1920 at Hampton Court Palace.

Accession Number

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record createdFebruary 14, 2007
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