National Portrait Gallery: reduces reproduction fees

August 25, 2012 at 9:30 pm (portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , , )


Charlotte Frost (Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician) sent the following link, knowing I had had my eye on a few portraits at London’s National Portrait Gallery. The article is entitled “NPG Changes image licensing to allow free downloads.”

Anyone who has visited (via website or in person) and wanted something reproduced, or simply for personal study, is sometimes looking at spending big bucks. It’s great to see some entity like the NPG responding to the needs of the non-commercial and academic user. May others soon follow suit.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever discussed here my own interaction with the National Portrait Gallery. An online acquaintance wrote to say that he had asked to see a “preview” before purchasing a portrait of the wife of his biographical subject. I had been waiting and waiting to see two portraits by the photographer SILVY purported to be of Maria Culme Seymour (née Maria Smith). Following my friend’s lead, I wrote – and waited; getting no answer. Wrote to a different email address and did hear back. Hurrah!

In return I was sent two tiny pictures. I fell in love with one of them – and yet the NAME on the photo puzzled me: Lady Maria Seymour. The inclusion of a first name, for a baronet’s wife, was highly unusual, even if Silvy, a Frenchman, was unaware of custom. My NPG contact said the identification was a process of elimination: no one else of that name.

I am still suspicious. I’d LOVE it to be Maria — Emma’s youngest sister — but believe the young woman portrayed probably is a daughter of the Seymour-Conway household. A young lady soon to be married, rather than a wife and mother.

Why my doubt?

Beside the name, there is a contemporaneous photo of the daughter of Maria’s cousin, Spencer, 2nd Marquess of Northampton. This daughter, Lady Marian Alford, is younger than Maria by a couple of years — yet she is the epitome of the “Victorian Matron”.

Weeks after receiving the small images from NPG, and declining to buy better (larger) images due to the uncertain nature of their identification, I was beginning to tell some people who had helped me in this project my reservations; I invited them to take a look for themselves — and that was when I found quite large (and very satisfactory!) images had been posted online! I still shake my head, wondering why I hadn’t been sent these same scans – and I suppose too (as I was told NOT to even KEEP the images sent me) puzzled as to why they posted them online at all.

I invite you, too, to look over the images of “Lady Maria Seymour” (portrait #655; portrait #656) — can YOU ID her??? and Lord Northampton’s daughter, Lady Marian Alford (sitter #631).

“Family” who are represented at NPG, in addition to Lady Marian:

Looking, tonight, I see that “Maria” is no longer ID’ed as Maria Culme Seymour! Wish someone had said…

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