The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Connie Gilchrist

Connie Gilchrist

A carte-de-visite portrait of the actress and model Connie Gilchrist (1865-1946), a perennial favourite throughout the second half of the nineteenth century.

Born Constance MacDonald Gilchrist on 23 January 1865 in Agar Town, London, she joined the company of the Gaiety Theatre at the age of 12 as a skipping rope dancer. A highly successful career as dancer and actress in comedy and vaudeville ended in 1892 when she married the seventh Earl of Orkney, and retired to Leighton Buzzard. She died on 9 May 1946.

From the age of six she posed regularly for Frederick Leighton, culminating as a whole procession of dancing girls in his Daphnephoria, which was shown at the Royal Academy in 1876 (now in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight).

In 1873, Connie Gilchrist was the subject of a painting by James McNeill Whistler, which showed her in a stage costume with a skipping rope. Titled ‘Harmony in Yellow and Gold: The Gold Girl (Connie Gilchrist)’, the painting was presented to New York’s Metropolitan Museum in 1911. In 1879, she again sat for Whistler (‘The Blue Girl: Portrait of Connie Gilchrist’), now in the Hunterian Art Gallery in Glasgow.

Photographed by William and Daniel Downey of London and Newcastle.


Code: 124652
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© Paul Frecker 2019