George Frederic Watts and assistants, ‘Hope’ 1886
George Frederic Watts and assistants
Hope 1886

This display examines the relationship between still and moving images in the early twentieth century.

Edward Burne-Jones’s King Cophetua and The Begger Maid and George Frederic Watts’s Hope were presented to the newly-established Tate Gallery around 1900 as works exemplifying the profundity of the artists’ vision. Black and white reproductions introduced the images to audiences across the world, and in New York they caught the imagination of the actress Vera Royer. Royer devised a series of films telling stories that might have inspired famous paintings, including the two in the Tate Gallery’s collection.

The films shown here were made by Lejaren à Hiller, a New York illustrator, set designer and photographer. He collaborated with the film director Herbert Blaché on The Beggar Maid. Released in 1921, it starred the teenage actress Mary Astor as the maid and Reginald Denny as the Earl of Winston, her aristocratic lover. Hope was released the following year. It also starred Astor, this time playing a Breton fisherman’s wife who keeps her faith through a hail of misfortunes. It premiered at New York’s Capitol Theatre accompanied by a tableau vivant of Hope and an orchestral backing of The Last Hope by composer Louis Gottschalk.

This display has been devised by curator Alison Smith

View the artworks in this display