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Lafayette L2937
Neg. Date: 19-03-1902

copyright V&A

Sidney Herbert, 14th Earl of Pembroke and 11th Earl of Montgomery (1853-1913)

Immensely rich and the owner of paintings by van Dyck, Rubens, Reynolds and many other old masters, his 45,000 acres in England and Ireland gave him the fantastic annual income of approximately £80,000.

As well as meeting Daisy at the Devonshire House Ball of 1897, the highlights of the English social season brought the Pembrokes and Plesses together at various house parties and sporting events.

The Earl was an impeccable product of the British system, educated at Eton and Oxford, who followed the standard career route of the aristocracy – first serving in the army, followed by a period of “public service” in politics. At the time of this photograph, he was a courtier.

Although his sister, Lady de Grey, and the “Marlborough House Set” of friends around King Edward VII were known for their relaxed attitude, the Earl of Pembroke still appears to personify the rigid respectability of the court of Queen Victoria and her husband, the Prince Consort.

The Earl was photographed by the Lafayette studio six months later with his wife and younger son, dressed in the robes they had worn to King Edward VII's coronation - an unusual family grouping as it was very rare for an aristocrat to be photographed as pater familias. However, in this image, made two months after the transition from Lord Steward of the Household of Queen Victoria to that of King Edward VII, he is seen in the immaculately pressed frock coat of an English gentleman against an idealised English country backdrop inspired by the paintings of Reynolds.