The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Mrs Ernst Benzon and daughter

Mrs Ernst Benzon and Miss Lily Benzon

A carte-de-visite portrait of Mrs Ernst Benzon and her daughter Miss Lily Benzon.

Born in Hamburg in 1827, Elisabeth Lehmann was the daughter of the artist Leo Lehmann (1782-1859). She was therefore sister of Henri Lehmann, the German-born French historical painter and portraitist; Rudolf Lehmann, the German-English portraitist and author: and Frederick Lehmann, the British businessman and Liberal politician.

She married the wealthy steel manufacturer and patron of the arts (Edmond) Ernest Leopold Schlesinger Benzon. In the early 1850s the couple settled in London. Mrs Benzon died on 16 February 1878, aged 50.

She is seen here with her daughter Elizabeth Marie Rudolpha Benzon, known as Lily within the family. According to the 1871 census, at which time the family were living at 10 Palace Gardens in Bayswater, she was born at Sheffield in Yorkshire in or about 1857. However, according to a report of her death that appeared in the Roman Catholic journal The Tablet, she was Benzon’s adopted daughter and she was born in Rome. The report reveals that she met an unusual end. ‘We likewise regret to record the death, under tragic circumstances, of Mrs Elizabeth Marie R. Forster, of Petra, Cleeve Hill, near Cheltenham, and Postlip Hall, Winchcombe. Mrs Forster had recently suffered from heath failure, and on Good Friday, while in her drawing room, seems to have fallen forward into the open fireplace during a fainting seizure. Her charred body was discovered by Father Palmer, her chaplain. Mrs Forster was the adopted daughter of the late Mr Benzon, who bequeathed to her a portion of the large fortune which was otherwise a byword in the spending of it by her foster-brother. Born in Rome, she was received into the Church in 1887, ten years after her marriage with Mr Stuart Forster, a barrister-at-law and a magistrate. Having bought the Manor of Postlip, in Gloucestshire, she there restored, in 1890, the beautiful twelfth-century chapel of St James the Apostle, and this, indeed, was only one of her several beneficences as a church builder or restorer’ (The Tablet, 10 April 1915).

Photographed by Camille Silvy of London on 25 April 1861.

Code: 125876
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