Himalaya: Listen. Learn. Grow.
National Gallery of Australia | Audio Tour | The Edwardians
Valerie Susan Langdon — the subject of this work — caused a scandal in 1878 when she married in secret Henry Meux, the heir to a brewery fortune. Valerie said she was an actress before her marriage, but many suggested she had worked under another name at a dance hall frequented by prostitutes. In a bid to gain his wife a place in polite Victorian society, Henry bought Lady Meux the diamonds that Whistler portrayed her wearing in this painting. However, neither the jewels nor her Egyptian antiquities collection could gain her the position that she desired.