Robert Deane
photographer, photo historian, publisher
hHonorary Researcher, Department of Photography, National Gallery of Australia


Eveleen Myers

1856 - 1937

Eveleen Myers, née Tennant, was born in London in 1856, the youngest of three daughters to Charles Tennant, M.P. and Gertrude Barbara Rich Collier. Her mother, who had spent the first 24 years of her life in France, was an intimate of Flaubert, Gambetta and other influential French intellectuals. Mrs Tennant's salon in London was frequented by many of the leading members of London society, including William Gladstone, Sir John Ruskin, Alfred, Lord Tennyson and the painters George F. Watts and Edward Burne-Jones. Eveleen and her sister Dorothy played active roles in their mother's social life. Celebrated beauties, both were painted by Frederick Watts and John Everett Millais, the portraits being shown at the Royal Academy. Dorothy later married the explorer H.M. Stanley.

Eveleen Myers married the writer Frederick William Henry Myers (1843 - 1901) in 1880. The Myers moved to Leckhampton House, Cambridge which had been designed for them by the architect William C. Marshall. The house presently forms part of Corpus Christi College. Frederick and Eveleen Myers had three children, Leopold Hamilton (1881 - 1944); Silvia Constance (1883 - 1957), and Harold (1886 - 1952).

Contemporary reports suggest that Eveleen Myers took up photography in 1888 with a view to taking portraits of her children. Myers may also have been influenced by her childhood experience of being photographed by Julia Margaret Cameron during a visit to the Isle of Wight.

Her photographic work seems to have been largely accomplished in the period 1888 to the mid 1890's. Following the death of her husband, Meyers left Leckhampton, with its studio and darkroom, and devoted herself to the publication of her husband's papers.

In addition to both formal and informal photographs of her children and topographical photographs of her residence, Leckhampton House, Myers rapidly established a considerable reputation as a portrait photographer. In 1889 she produced a series of portraits of Robert Browning with images of Gladstone, Chamberlain, Balfour and Galton the following year.

Four photogravures by Myers were published 1891 as Issue 7 of Sun Artists, a journal published in eight parts between1889 and 1891. Each Issue was devoted to the work of a single British photographer, illustrated by four hand-pulled photogravures, together with an introductory descriptive essay. Issue number 7 was devoted to Myers, with an introductory essay by John Addington Symonds.

In his essay, Symonds states "such is the excellence of her work that invaluable contributions to art... are to be expected from the mastery she has attained..". A portrait of Browning from the 1889 series was published in The Magazine of Art,1890, p.265. Myers also exhibited with the Brotherhood of the Linked Ring in the 1890's. Others were less laudatory. Jane Fletcher quotes a contemporary critic writing in the Photographic News "The Rebekah [sic]...has all the merit of good intention, but goes no further; the art does not hide the art".

Myers, as with Cameron and Alice Hughes (1857-1939), had entry to British political and intellectual elites of the period, firstly through her mother's salon in London and then through her husband's professional connections at Cambridge University. That these were, in the main, men is perhaps remarkable only to a present day audience.

The major holding of Myers' work is in the National Portrait Gallery, London which holds 29 miscellaneous prints and 2 albums containing 542 prints relating to her carer, life, family and friends. Her work was featured in Edwardian Women Photographers in the National Portrait Gallery (1954); Faking it: Between art photography and advertising, 1850-1950, National Museum of Photography, Film and Television (2004);


National Portrait Gallery (UK) collection of images


Further Reading

Sun Artists, Keegan Paul, Trench & Trubner, London 1889-1891 (A set of Sun Artists is held by the National Gallery of Australia)

Williams, Val Where women dare to tread?, Women's Art Magazine, pp. 6-9, vol 59, July-August 1994

Stanley, Jo Marketable maidens, Women's Art Magazine, pp. 45-46, vol 59, July-August 1994

Ewing, William A. Love & desire. Photoworks, Thames & Hudson, London, 1999

Fletcher, Jane Faking it: Between art photography and advertising, 1850-1950, RPS Journal December 2004, pp. 454-457


© Robert Deane
Honorary Researcher in Photography
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra