The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Laura Bell, Mrs Thistlethwayte, called
  • Ernest-Joseph-Angelon Girard (1813 - 1898)
  • Laura Bell, Mrs Thistlethwayte, called
  • France
  • c. 1850?
  • Miniature
  • Watercolour on ivory
  • Image size: 21.2 x 16.7 cm
  • Signature: 'Ernest Girard'
  • P779
  • Reserve Gallery
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The identification of the sitter is uncertain but, on balance, likely. It was first proposed by Lord Redesdale in the early years of the Wallace Collection as a museum and is supported by the sitter's resemblance to several portraits of Laura by Richard Buckner. Laura Bell was the daughter of Captain R.H. Bell and his wife Laura Jane Seymour, an illegitimate daughter of the 3rd Marquess of Hertford. Her name appears twice in the address book of the 4th Marquess. Early in her life she was a prostitute, but in 1852 she married a rich Army subaltern Frederick Thistlethwayte, and later, after a religious conversion, became a renowned lay preacher, praised for the eloquence with which she addressed congregations in London and Scotland. She had an intense friendship, begun in 1864, with William Gladstone. The French miniature painter Ernest Girard was a pupil of Isabey and the miniaturist Jean-François Hollier. He is not known to have worked in London, but Laura Bell was in Paris in 1850 and she almost certainly visited the city on other occasions.