|Elizabeth Thompson, Lady Butler (3 November 1846–2 October 1933) was a British painter. She was married to
Lieutenant General Sir William Butler.
Born at Villa Claremont in Lausanne, Switzerland, she specialized in painting scenes from British military campaigns
and battles. These included the Crimean War and the Battle of Waterloo. The Roll Call, 1874 (purchased by Queen
Victoria), The Defence of Rorke's Drift and Scotland Forever! 1881 (in Leeds City Art Gallery) are among her better-
She wrote about her military paintings in an autobiography published in 1922: "I never painted for the glory of war, but
to portray its pathos and heroism."
She was the daughter of Thomas James Thompson (1812–1881) and his second wife Christiana Weller (1825–1910).
Her sister is the famous essayist and poet Alice Meynell. Elizabeth began receiving art instruction in 1862, while
growing up in Italy. In 1866 she went to South Kensington, London and entered the Female School of Art. She became
a Roman Catholic along with the rest of the family after they moved to Florence in 1869. While in Florence, under the
tutelage of the artist Giuseppe Bellucci (1827–1882), Elizabeth attended the Accademia di Belle Arti. She signed her
works as E.B.; Elizth. Thompson or Mimi Thompson.
Initially she concentrated on religious subjects like The Magnificat (1872), but upon going to Paris in 1870 she was
exposed to battle scenes from Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier and Édouard Detaille, and switched her focus to war
paintings. With the painting Missing (1873) a Franco-Prussian War battle scene, depicting the common solders'
suffering and heroism, she earned her first submission to the Royal Academy. After The Roll Call was shown in 1874
at the Academy, she became a nineteenth century celebrity, due to the paintings' immense popularity. As the paintings
toured Europe, along with photographs of Elizabeth, she gained even more notice because people found out that she
was both young and pretty, something normally not associated with painters of battle scenes. It also helped that during
this time there was an incredible amount of Victorian pride and romanticism for the growing British Empire.
Her career and fame peaked with her 11 June 1877 marriage to Sir William Francis Butler (1838–1910), a
distinguished officer of the British Army, from Tipperary in Ireland. Not only was this beauty now married, breaking
the heart of many a young man, but also she would now travel to the far reaches of the Empire with her husband and
raise their five children. During this time she also came under the influence of her husband's Irish-inclined beliefs that
the colonial imperialism of countries like Great Britain may not be in the best interest of the native people in far-off
She would continue to paint and hold true to the valour of the ordinary British soldier, despite the policy of Parliament
and Crown. On her husband's retirement from the army, she moved with him to Ireland, where they lived at Bansha
Castle, County Tipperary. She was widowed in 1910, but continued to live at Bansha until 1922, when she took up
residence with her daughter, Eileen, Viscountess Gormanston, at Gormanston Castle, County Meath. She died there
shortly before her 87th birthday and was interred at nearby Stamullen graveyard.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
This photograph was probably taken prior to her marriage in 1877 since it bears her facsimile signature of Elizabeth
Carte de Visiet
Frendell & Marshall - Photographer
Mounted Cut Autograph
3 inches by 1 1/4 inches (8cm x 3.5 cm)