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Artist Name Halle, Charles Edward 1846-1914
Artwork TitlePortrait of Mrs Patrick Campbell
CataloguingOil on canvas; signed;
InformationBeatrice Stella Campbell, better known as Mrs. Patrick Campbell, the actress, was born in Kensington on 9th February 1865, the youngest child of John Tanner, the son of an army contractor to the British East India Company, and Maria Luigia Giovanna, daughter of an Italian political exile. She was educated at Brighton and Hampstead, and in Paris, and studied for a short time at the Guildhall School of Music. In 1884, when she was nineteen, she eloped to marry Patrick Campbell. In October 1888 Mrs. Patrick Campbell went upon the professional stage, making her first appearance in a play called "Bachelors" at the Alexandra Theatre, Liverpool. After touring in the company of Sir Phillip Ben Greet, she arrived in London in March 1890, and during the following year the Gattis (impresari of their day) engaged her for the Adelphi where she acted between August 1891 and the spring of 1893 in such melodramas as "The Trumpet Call" and "The Black Domino", although shortly after the latter opened she received a fortnight's notice from the Gattis on the grounds that her voice and gestures were ineffective and that nothing she said or did "got over the footlights". It was at this time that her performance was seen by Mrs. Alexander and Graham Robertson, who knew that Sir George Alexander wanted an actress to play the part of Paula Tanqueray in the new drama, "The Second Mrs. Tanqueray", by Sir A. W. Pinero at the St. James's Theatre. Negotiations followed, made difficult by the attitude of the Gattis who wished to keep Mrs. Campbell when they heard that she was sought for the St. James's. At last she was released, and thanks to the generosity of Elizabeth Robins, who had been cast meantime for Paula and withdrew in Mrs. Campbell's favour, this almost unknown player "the fragile creature of Italian origin", as Pinero called her, had her chance. From the moment that she walked upon the stage of the St. James's on the night of 27 May 1893, her success was astonishing. She had a dark Italian beauty and a rich and expressive voice: it was soon realised that none of her contemporaries had her gift for portraying passionate, complex women, "the flash and gloom, the swirl and the eddy, of a soul torn by supposed intellectual emotion", as Sir Edmund Gosse put it in a letter to her written in 1895. She might fail in the simplicities, but properly cast she was unexampled. William Archer wrote of her Paula: "Never was there a more uncompromisingly artistic piece of acting. It was incarnate reality, the haggard truth."; no other player of Paula has left the same impression or shown the same temperamental brilliance. Mrs Campbell’s fame was at its height during the 1890s, and in June 1898, she had one of her most memorable successes as a Mélisande of haunting beauty in Maeterlinck's "Pelléas" at the Prince of Wales's Theatre. In September the following year Mrs Campbell went into rather unsuccessful management at the Prince of Wales's, then in April 1900 she suffered the loss of her husband who was killed fighting in South Africa. Her management remained financially unstable, but she had a run of artistic successes in London, then New York, from which she returned to act in a series of unimportant productions interrupted by one famous revival - that in which she played Mélisande in French to the Pelléas of Sarah Bernhardt (Vaudeville Theatre, July 1904). After a revival at the St. James’s in June 1913 of "The Second Mrs Tanqueray", Mrs. Campbell found one of her last major successes, Eliza Doolittle, the flower-girl Galatea of her friend Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion". During the rest of her career Mrs Campbell's star slowly waned. She had various roles, but much of her time was spent in touring and her new parts were few and unimportant. She never regained her full hold on the West End stage, and during the last years of her life she was engaged chiefly in minor film work in America. However, to the end she retained her sense of humour and cutting wit. Off the stage she was tempestuous, tactless, and good-hearted; upon it she was an actress in the grand manner. One of her most famous quotes on marriage, is as follows 'I commend the deep, deep peace of the double bed after the hurly-burly of the chaise longue'. James Agate, critic, said of her at her death: "In my life I have seen six great actresses, and six only. These are Bernhardt, Réjane, Mrs Kendal, Ellen Terry, Duse, and Mrs Patrick Campbell." She died of pneumonia at Pau, France on 9th April 1940. (In 1914 she had married, as his second wife, Major George Frederick Myddleton Cornwallis-West. By her first husband she had a son, who was killed in action in France in 1917, and a daughter, Stella Patrick Campbell, also an actress, who often acted alongside her mother.) portrait
Dimensions23.5 x 19.5 inches