University of Aberdeen, Scotland
With kindest regards to Miss Hornel’: Elizabeth Hornel’s Role in Her Brother’s Photographic Practice
The Scottish artist Edward Atkinson Hornel (1864-1933) is mostly remembered as a painter, but knowledge of his photographic practice is slowly disseminating, thanks in part to recent exhibitions about him. Yet despite these recent advances, there is still little knowledge about the many people around him who made his practice possible. Indeed, Hornel’s prominence as an artist has tended to erase the stories of the women around him, whether models or artistic helpers.
Possibly chief among them is Hornel’s own sister, Elizabeth Hornel, with whom he travelled widely and lived together with at Broughton House, Kirkcudbright. Literature about Hornel bears little mention of Elizabeth’s contribution to Hornel’s career as a travel companion, artistic helper, and housekeeper, even though there is visual evidence of the part she regularly played. Indeed, the important photographic collection amassed by E. A. Hornel and kept in Broughton House – now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland – offers dozens of representations of Elizabeth at work in her brother’s studio.
This paper proposes to offer some long-overdue insight into the role Elizabeth Hornel had in her brother’s photographic practice. This will be done through the close examination of the photographic representation of Elizabeth and her brother available in Broughton House, but also through the meagre existing literature on Elizabeth, as well as the study of mentions of Elizabeth in E. A. Hornel’s correspondence. Reflecting on these different elements, the speaker shall seek to redress the contribution made by Elizabeth, and thus in turn give a more in-depth view of Edward Hornel’s artistic practice.