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Virginia Woolf: Platinum Print Portrait

Virginia Woolf: Platinum Print Portrait by WOOLF, Virginia; George Charles Beresford (1902)
Author: WOOLF, Virginia; George Charles Beresford
Title: Virginia Woolf Platinum Print Portrait
Year: 1902
Publisher: N/A
Place: London
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: No
Price: £2750
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Added under Manuscripts  

(10.8 x 15.3cm) Owned by her brother-in-law, perhaps the best-known of all photographs of Virginia Woolf, taken in a London studio by George Beresford in 1902, and reproduced by her nephew as the frontispiece of his aunt's biography. This platinum print with its 'rich range of nuanced tones' (National Portrait Gallery) was owned by the widow of Virginia Woolf's half-sister Stella Duckworth, John Waller Hills, who maintained a close relationship with the Stephen family after his wife's early death in 1897 and has passed by descent through his family. The photograph has a couple of light marks to the surface including a tiny green spot near the sitter's nose. A pencil number appears on the verso and a mark along the top of the reverse of the image where it has been removed from an album page. There is offsetting on the verso from a portrait of Virginia Woolf's mother, Julia Stephen, which must have been on an adjacent page of the Hills' family album. There exists no record of this image being sold at auction.

At the turn of the twentieth century the photographer George Charles Beresford's new London studio was in Yeoman's Row, off the Brompton Road. This image was taken there in July 1902 just as the twenty-year-old Virginia Stephen was beginning her writing life. At the same sitting there were six photographs taken of Virginia Woolf's father, Sir Leslie Stephen, an unspecified number of Vanessa and fourteen of Virginia herself. This image was printed with platinum salts: 'The result, so far as Virginia was concerned, was remarkable, showing her looking pale and contemplative and emphasizing her beautiful liquid eyes and strong aquiline features' (National Portait Gallery). In a letter written four years later Woolf mentions the photographer George Beresford as if his role with the family was an established fact.
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