The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Hon Lewis Wingfield and Miss Georgina Moncrieffe

Hon Lewis Wingfield and Miss Georgina Moncrieffe

A portrait of the society beauty Georgina Moncrieffe (later the Countess of Dudley) dressed as Mary, Queen of Scots. The historical tableau here depicted shows the Scottish queen with her Italian secretary, David Rizzio, murdered in 1566 on the order of Mary’s husband, Lord Darnley.

The part of Rizzio in the tableau was played by the Hon Lewis Wingfield (1842-1891), son of 6th Viscount Powerscourt. Wingfield became, variously, an actor, a journalist, an artist, a designer in the theatre and an author. According to his entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, ‘[h]e led a varied career, being capricious and unstable, never remaining with any one activity for very long and never reaching the top rank in any of them… Wingfield has left many examples of his eccentric behaviour, such as going to the Derby as a ‘negro minstrel’, spending nights in a workhouse and pauper lodgings, and becoming an attendant in a madhouse. He travelled in various parts of the East and was one of the first Englishmen to journey in the interior of China.’

Although the back of the mount bears a backplate identifying the photographer as S. Ayling of 493 Oxford Street [London], the photograph was actually taken by Victor Albert Prout. The occasion was the Braemar Gathering held in the grounds of Mar Lodge in August 1863 during the first official visit to Scotland by the Princess and Princess of Wales. At the celebrations which followed the games, the Prince and Princess were entertained by a series of tableaux vivants and scenes from amateur theatricals staged by other guests. Full details of the event, other photographs in the series, and the story of the Mar Lodge album subsequently produced are given in Staged Photography in the Victorian Album, an excellent essay by Marta Weiss in Acting The Part: Photography as Theatre (2006).


Code: 122869
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© Paul Frecker 2019