Mary Olive Edis Still Life of Handmade Jewelry and Silver Objects
Medium Autochrome (1/2 plate)
Mount in glass mount
Photo Date 1912c Print Date 1912c
Dimensions 6-1/2 x 4-11/16 in. (165 x 119 mm)
Photo Country United Kingdom (UK)
Photographer Country United Kingdom (UK)
Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith
About This Image
Mary Olive Edis was a British photographer who was famous for autochrome phototographs and portrait photography and served as a war artist in World War I. Edis was born in the U.K. in 1876. Known better by her middle name "Olive", Edis was one of five daughters of architect Sir Robert Edis.
In 1903 she and her sister Katherine opened a studio in Sheringham, Norfolk, where they specialized in portraits of local fisherman and members of the local gentry. Eventually the partnership with her sister was dissolved when Katharine married. Edis herself married Edwin Galsworthy, a cousin of the novelist John Galsworthy, in 1928. Although the Sheringham studio continued in operation, she also opened new ones in Farnham, Surrey and Ladbroke Grove, London.
Edis worked with platinum prints, which were often sepia-toned. In 1912 Olive Edis became one of the first women photographers to make use of the autochrome process, and she patented her own design of autochrome viewers, termed diascopes. Her autochrome portraits of many of England's leading figures were eventually willed to the National Portrait Gallery, along with a sample of one of the autochrome viewers. Her famous sitters included George Bernard Shaw, Emmeline Pankhurst, Thomas Hardy, Arthur James Balfour and the Duke of York. Her autochrome portraits of many of England‘s leading figures were eventually willed to the National Portrait Gallery, along with a sample of one of the autochrome diascope viewers, which Edis had personally designed for her clients.
Some prints contain her monogram, an "O" surmounting an "E" and joined by a vertical line.
In 1914, Edis was elected a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society. She was appointed an official war artist and photographed British Women's Services and the battlefields of France and Flanders in 1918-19 for the Imperial War Museum. In 1920 she was commissioned by her uncle, who was president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, to create advertising photographs for the Canadian Pacific Railway; and her autochromes of this trip to and across Canada are believed to be some of the earliest color photographs of that country.
She died in 1955. Examples of her work are held by the Bristish Imperial War Museum, the National Media Museum, the Cromer Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.
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