Edith Waugh, 1868



The Birthday by William Holman Hunt, 1868

The Birthday (1868) is a striking portrait of the artist’s sister-in-law, Edith Waugh, on her twenty-first birthday, surrounded by gifts. They include a cameo, which Holman Hunt had originally given to his first wife, Fanny Waugh, Edith’s sister. (See my other post here for a photo of Fanny wearing that same cameo).

Edith had become a surrogate mother to Fanny and William’s son Cyril, and seven years after this painting, Edith and Hunt (age 48) were married in Switzerland – because English law (the Table of Affinities) forbade their marriage. Incidentally, Edith and Hunt, who by then was quite prominent, campaigned against this ridiculous prohibition, and in 1907 Parliament passed the Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Marriage Act, which sanctioned their union.

They had two daughters together, Gladys, born in 1878, and Hilary Lushington, born on 6 May 1879.

source: Gather Ye Rosebuds

1 Comment

  1. Coral says: Reply

    I have just found your website and I know I will enjoy it greatly. My great aunt was dressmaker to Queen Victoria’s daughters before she came to New Zealand in 1867. I read all I could on the Holman-Hunts, the spark being ignited by reading My two grandmothers, by their granddaughter Diana Holman Hunt. You will know I am sure that the artist first name was Holman but when Queen Victoria was knighting him , she said that Hunt was not imposing a name for such a great man and she told him to Hyphenate it.

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