Dame Ellen Terry
Oil on canvas
Portia : The Merchant of Venice
height (frame): 121cm
width (frame): 90cm
"G. W. Baldry / 1883" (red paint b. l.)
Bequeathed by the Baroness de Satje, 1964
GCL 707, Gift 806 [with two chairs, once the property of Sir Henry Irving]
1981 Tokyo, Mitsukoshi Museum of Art, "Age of Shakespeare" (YM15)
Portia's legal costume for the Trial Scene (Act IV, scene 1) is red with a cylindrical soft-topped hat, a long gown with wide sleeves and high collar, and a long robe with a broad shash.
Millais borrowed this costume from Ellen Terry for his portrait of Portia - which was sat for by a glamorous substitute - signed and dated 1884 (Metropolitan Museum, New York 06.1328); this fair-haired model does not wear the hat.
Ellen Terry played Portia for the first time at the Prince of Wales Theatre on 17 April 1875, in a famous Bancroft production designed by Godwin. Her first performance in the role at the Lyceum took place in 1879; that production, with Henry Irving as Shylock, ran for 250 nights.
[There was a Grace W Baldry who exhibited in 1897.]