The Glamorous Mrs Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Jameson

The Glamorous Mrs Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Jameson

Henry Lamb's ‘Scotch Lady’

Painted by Henry Lamb as he emerged as an artist of promise within London’s art world in the early 20th Century, this glamorous portrait of Mrs Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Jameson will feature in the 27 April Avant Garde : Art from 1890 to Now sale in London.

Henry Lamb affectionately referred to the subject of this important and early portrait as his ‘Scotch Lady’. He painted the glamorous Mrs Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Jameson, wife of the solicitor John ‘Harry’ Jameson, in November 1908, whilst staying with them at 8 Doune Terrace in Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town. This was an exciting time for Lamb, personally and professionally, as he emerged as an artist of promise within London’s art world and developed friendships with Augustus John, Vanessa Bell, Lytton Strachey and other members of the Bloomsbury Group.


signed and dated (lower right) | oil on canvas | 200cm x 100cm (78 1/4in x 39in) | £20,000 - £30,000 + fees


View Lot 9 ⇒


Lamb was born in Adelaide, Australia but grew up in Manchester. He studied Medicine at what is now known as the University of Manchester but gave up his course to enrol at Chelsea Art School in London in 1906. John was one of his tutors and his influence can be felt in the fluidity of Mrs Jameson’s full-length, confident pose. Lamb joined John and his entourage in Paris in 1907 and attended L’Ecole de la Palette in Montparnasse. His exhibiting career began with the New English Art Club and Allied Artists Association in 1905 and 1908 respectively. Whilst in Paris, Lamb met the Russian artist Boris Anrep (1883-1969), who became one of his closest friends, as well as the music student Helen Maitland (1885-1965). She was a distant cousin of Elizabeth Jameson and this relationship presumably resulted in the portrait commission which brought Lamb to the Scottish capital in 1908. According to Lamb’s biographer Keith Clements, Anrep attended Edinburgh College of Art over that winter, under the Directorship of Frank Morley-Fletcher (1866-1949).

Keith Clements has written about the current portrait thus:

‘Sittings began early in the November of 1908 with numerous studies in pencil and watercolour from which eventually the painting had to be completed because of the changing appearance of his ‘Scotch lady’, as Henry referred to her: Elizabeth Jamieson [sic] was pregnant at the time and whilst posing tried to disguise her condition with the folds of an ‘Empire Line’ dress; but in the finished picture she appears ‘wasp-waisted’ and typically Edwardian. The portrait of Mrs Jamieson is one of the artist’s earliest surviving oils and surely his largest – over six feet in height…younger generations of Jamiesons [sic]…remember how well and warmly Henry Lamb was always spoken of by his sitter, even in old age – she lived to be ninety-four.’ (Keith Clements, Henry Lamb: The Artist and his Friends, Redcliffe Press Ltd, Bristol 1985, p.75-76.)




Indeed, the rapport between artist and subject is clear in The Scotch Lady. Jameson regards Lamb directly, with her head tilted to one side. This gesture is paralleled in the bend of her elbow and flow of her dress to the right, providing rhythm throughout the image. Lamb revels in her elegance, with particularly sensitive passages in the depiction of the area around her collar bone and the hand placed discreetly above the swell of her pregnancy. Jameson’s only adornments are her two rings, her only accompaniments the Bonsai tree set atop a sewing table. The contrasting textures of her gown provide colour fields to join those of the background and floor, in a strikingly simplified composition. As such, what appears to be a relatively ‘traditional’ society portrait contains flashes of modernity and hints of post-Impressionism.

Lamb returned to medicine during World War One service and thereafter made his name as a one of Britain’s leading twentieth-century portraitists. He became a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and Tate and was elected a full member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1940, twenty years before his death.



Auction Information


AVANT GARDE: Art From 1890 to Now

Thursday 27 April 2023

Mall Galleries, London | Live Online


View the auction catalogue ⇒



Contemporary & Post-War Art


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Simon Hucker



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