To Anstruther ThomsonClementina (Kit) Anstruther -Thomson - a ten year (1887-1897) relationship with Violet Paget.

In Italian - currently to be found at -

(Two English Violets in Florence)


(notes right)

Nel 1887, dopo sette anni però Mary le annuncia il suo fidanzamento con Darmsteter (si risposerà poi anche Duclaux), il che causerà a Vernon un forte esaurimento nervoso, dal quale si riprende solo grazie a "Kit" (Clementina) Anstruther Thompson, che aveva conosciuto appena qualche giorno prima di ricevere la ferale notizia.

Così la descrive alla madre, quando ancora non sa della decisione di Mary: Kit é una "bella creatura... ha una personalità pittoresca, dipinge molto bene, cavalca in modo deciso e veloce, guida il tandem e gioca a polo... parla slang come un ragazzo... é veramente una creatura incantevole... Secondo me é anche molto bella, almeno la sera, quando non é vestita di camicie maschili maladatte e giacche e sottane un bel po' troppo corte... In realtà non si interessa di niente se non quadri & alberi & e erba & Browning & Shelley, & ciò che é giusto & ciò che é sbagliato, & perché... Vorrei tanto che potesse venire a Firenze... Con l'eccezione di Mary non sono mai stata attratta tanto da nessuno, né ho avuto così fiducia di nessuno..."

The 7th Lord Sudeley writes about VIolet Keppel/Trefusis ...

"Kit" (Clementina Caroline) Anstruther Thompson was born in 1857 and died in 1921.

She was the daughter of Colonel John Anstruther ( - ) Thomson (pictured right) and C. Maria Gray.

She was 30 years old when she began her collaboration (and relationship) with Violet Paget.

Writing under the pseudonym of Vernon Lee, Violet Paget survived Clementina by fourteen years.

Violet Keppel (Violet (Keppel) Trefusis)

Violet Keppel was born in 1894, daughter of the Honourable Mrs George Keppel - Alice Keppel - wife of the third son of the seventh Earl of Albemarle, who was not Violet's father.

Alice Keppel was an accepted and, some say, favourite mistress of the future King Edward VII. She was the daughter of Admiral Sir William Edmonstone. (The legitimate daughter of the Edmonstone/Keppel marriage was Sonia Rosemary Keppel.)

Vita Sackville-WestWhilst it is not impossible that Violet was the daughter of the then Prince of Wales, she is believed to have been the natural daughter of Lord Grimthorpe. She is more widely known for her relationship with Vita Sackville-West (pictured). She reluctantly married Denys Trefusis in 1919. Denys and Violet's relationship was a stormy one; it lasted ten years, until his death.

To avoid confusion -- born in 1877, the daughter of the 4th Lord Sudeley, Alice Evelyn Agatha Hanbury-Tracy (d. 1955) married Major Bertram William Arnold Keppel. Whilst she married into the same family, she should not be confused with Alice Edmonstone Keppel.Visit Anstruther Guest Book Alice (presumed to be Hanbury-Tracy) Keppel was a visitor to the Hertfordshire house of Harry and Dame Eva Anstruther. She signed the Anstruther Guest Book on two occasions - 5th September 1905 and here, in April of 1906. The page image also shows a visit by C. Anstruther.Thomson, - perhaps, Clementina - Kit - in January of the same year - by which time she would have been almost fifty years old.

Click on image to visit The Anstruther Guest Book

It has to be said that this signing could have been made by Charles Frederick St. Clair Anstruther (Thomson) but, according to records, he ceased to use the second surname, Thomson - and by this date he would have been in his fifties. Both his children (a son, born in 1888 - John Arnold - who was killed in 1914 and a daughter - Grizel Margaret - who married Count Knut Corfitz Bonde) carried the single Anstruther name.

C. Anstruther Thomson had visited before, in 1902 (August 24th) and visited again from the 19th to the 22nd August of 1908. Contemporary guests were Thomas H.T. Egerton on the 19th, Leslie Seebohm, Hugh Seebohm and George J. G. Bruce on the 22nd. A further visit took place in 1909 from August 30th to September 2nd. An Arthur M. Goodhart was also a guest on Wednesday September 1st. Hylda Paget had also been a visitor during that month - on August 7th, 1909.

A sample selection of Clementina Anstruther-Thomson's collaborative work with "Vernon Lee".

Vernon Lee and Anstruther-Thomson (Contemp. Rev., 1897) - [they] seek a physiological basis for beauty in the furtherance of equilibrium, respiration, and circulation produced by the contemplation of beautiful forms. The general standpoint of this class of investigations is stated by Souriau (L'esthétique du mouvement, 1889). "The beautiful is something so complex that it is impossible to determine its nature a priori. Aesthetics will become a science only when the experimental method is applied to it. Biological science has made it possible to explain many of the simpler instances of beauty by showing their relation either to the welfare of the organism as a whole, to the mechanism of the special senses, or to the sex instincts."

Vernon Lee and C. Anstruther-Thomson, "Michelangelo's Medicean Tombs", Architectural Review, (16, no. 94, September 1904), 101-110.

Clementina Anstruther-Thomson. (published after her death) Art & Man: Essays & Fragments. Introduction by Vernon Lee. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press. 1924. Reprinted 1969.

... and a biographical work about them: Mannocchi, Phyllis F., "Vernon Lee and Kit Anstruther-Thomson: A Study of Love and Collaboration Between Romantic Friends," Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 1986, vol. 12, no. 2. CLINE PERIODICALS HQ1101.W77.

A Piece of Conjecture

The artist, John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925) - born in Florence to American parents - was associated with Clementina Anstruther-Thomson and Violet Paget.

It is known that in July of 1899 he had been in Paris for l'Exposition Universale with his mother and two sisters. They returned to Fladbury Rectory (Pershore) on the River Avon in England and there he was visited by (amongst others at this time) Violet Paget and Clementina Anstruther-Thomson. It was about this time, too that he executed this painting of two ladies with parasols - and it is tempting to imagine that Clementina (and Violet Paget) might have been the subjects of this painting.

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