This carte-du-visite portrait of Lillie Langtry by W and D Downey is 10.3 cm long by 6.2 cm wide and was created in 1885. A late 19th Century, sepia toned photograph, the image is a profile of the left side of her face as she turns towards her right. Lillie’s head and chest occupies most of the space inside the paper frame. Light from the right illuminates her oval shaped face and chest, and brings the silhouette profile of her face into white relief against the mid-tone background. Red brown text beneath the image reads: W.& D. Downey 57 & 61 Ebury St London S.W. Copyright.

Lillie’s forehead is covered in gentle curls, styled to frame her face, and then swept back into a chignon. Her left, almond shaped eye gazes upward, framed with a soft shadow that disappears along the ridge of her elegant nose and cheekbone. Her even, shapely lips are closed. A soft shadow extends around her cheek towards her small ear and down her neck. Her complexion appears flawless, interrupted only by a speckling of tiny, light and irregular spots that reveal the photograph’s vintage.

A fine pearl choker with a centrally hanging circular stone and jewel pendant, adorns her neck. The lustre of the pearls makes them appear to softly shimmer against the white of Lillie’s neck and upper chest and the shadow on the left beneath her ear. Her shoulders are fringed in luxurious fabric. The suggestion of a cleavage and edges of her shoulders are cropped by the discoloured, once white frame.

Audio description written by Meredith Hughes and voiced by Annette Twyman, 2021