Sunday Morning — Victoriana of the Week

George Frank Miles - Lillie Langtry 1884a

“Lillie Langtry”, George Frank Miles

Frank Miles lived a rich and eventful life, but he’s fallen into obscurity.

It was Miles who introduced his friend Oscar Wilde to society, and to Wilde’s patron, Lord Ronald Charles Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, who became the model for Lord Henry Wotton in The Picture of Dorian Gray.   After leaving Oxford, Wilde  lived in Miles’ Chelsea house for several years.

As a painter, Miles specialised in portraits of ladies in the upper reaches of society, including Princess Victoria, Princess Maud, and Princess Louise.   He also painted Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick, and the actress Lillie Langtry, who were both among the several mistresses of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.  (And speaking of rich and eventful lives, check out that  link to Lillie Langtry’s Wikipedia entry.  Did you know that she was the model for “Irene Adler” in A Scandal in Bohemia?)

No happy ending here:  Miles was committed to an asylum In 1887 w/symptoms that suggest syphilis-related dementia, and died four years later.   Most of his once considerable estate was gone by the time he died.  As a grim postscript, some speculated that he may have been Jack the Ripper, a theory has no basis in fact.

The Lillie Langtry portrait was sold at Christie’s in 2011 for £11,250 ($18,394).  I haven’t been able to identify the new owner.


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