Monday, September 19, 2016

Even more from the archaic files: Ethel and Lionel, early portraits

I'm back after happily spending time in the archives at the Ransom Center in Austin, TX--ironically, I discovered two fascinating items when I got back!

Cecil Clark Davis was a turn of the 20th century British painter who was relatively famous for portaits she did of high-profile people--including Lionel and Ethel Barrymore! Ethel, it seems, was friends with the Davis family as far back as the 1890s, and Davis did her portrait in 1896:

Lionel's, above, was done in 1919, when he was at a particularly thin weight. Here's a photo from about the same period:
As Milt Shanks in The Copperhead (stage), 1920
I'm not quite sure the portrait looks much like him, while the one of his sister looks pretty close to some images I've seen of her at that time.  I'm intrigued by the portrait of him because it shows something I've long thought--that he was a remarkably difficult person to capture in an image or two looking the same way--sometimes he almost looks like a different person:

Friends, 1912

Enemies of Women, 1923
c. 1920
The Burglar's Dilemma, 1913
c. 1917 portrait
Unseeing Eyes, 1923
Poor portrait caricature of LB, 1990s mural
There are some attributes which make it easier to determine who you are looking at, such as his dimples and often his eyes, but interestingly, it's when you see his movements that you begin to realize "ah! THAT'S Lionel Barrymore!" It has certainly served me when I've watched silents and he's wearing beards--watching his movements, especially his hands, is a good clue to which fuzzy-appearing character he is!

Enjoy the findings! :)

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