Mystery of ‘Lady in Red’ Who Appeared in Mervyn O’Gorman’s 1913 Colour Photos
The young beauty looks thoughtful and dreamy as she poses on the shingle beach in a scarlet swimming costume, as her long strawberry blonde hair cascades to her waist. This ethereal-looking teenager – who is thought to be called Christina – was one of the first people to be photographed in colour, yet rather than becoming famous, the young woman appears to have vanished altogether.
She was captured by photographer Mervyn O’Gorman in the series of dreamlike photos taken in Lulworth Cove, Dorset, in 1913, and for years was thought to be his daughter but now scholars believe she was a relative or friend – but all attempts to track her down have hit a dead end. Photos courtesy of The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum.
On the Beach, 1913
A portrait of O’Gorman’s daughter, Christina, taken on the beach at Lulworth Cove, Dorset. The comparatively long exposure time has given the sea a glassy quality and the large aperture setting and narrow depth of field has put Durdle Door in the background into soft focus.
A dramatic and comparatively unusual close-up portrait of O’Gorman’s daughter, Christina, taken on the beach at Lulworth Cove, Dorset in 1913. The large aperture setting has reduced the background to near abstraction and the lack of any obvious period references gives this image a remarkably modern feel.
Christina on the Beach, 1913
An evocative portrait of O’Gorman’s daughter, Christina, taken on the beach at Lulworth Cove, Dorset in 1913. Her choice of swimming costume was a fortuitous one since red was a colour which the Autochrome process captured particularly well.
A Picnic on the Beach, 1913
O’Gorman captures a timeless scene as his family eat their picnic on the beach in Dorset, with Durdle Door in the background. In 1897 O’Gorman had married Florence Rasch, who is sitting between their two daughters. O’Gorman’s camera case can be seen close by. One of the great advantages of the process was that it didn’t require special apparatus – photographers could use Autochrome plates in their existing cameras.
The subject of Mervyn O’Gorman’s pictures could have been a relative or family friend but experts say the pioneering amateur photographer’s wife Florence was 44 when they married in 1897, which makes their having children unlikely.
Christina by the Pond, 1913
A portrait of O’Gorman’s daughter, Christina, gazing thoughtfully into an ornamental pond. The location for this photograph is not known but may possibly be the gardens of Rempstone Hall near Corfe Castle in Dorset.
The vivid colours in this photograph, with Christina’s red blouse standing out against the green garden looks eerily modern.