The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Hezekiah Linthicum Bateman, 1812-1875

Nationality: American
Date of Birth: 1812.12.06
Place of Birth: Baltimore, MD
Date of Death: 1875.03.22
Place of Death: Rutland House, Rutland Gate, London


Hezekiah Linthicum Bateman was a theatre manager and impresario. He married Sidney Frances Cowell (1823-81) in St Louis, Missouri, and together they had eight children, three of their four daughters being educated for the stage. The wwo oldest, Kate Josephine (b. 1842), and Ellen (b. 1845), started their career young and were known as the "Bateman children". Isabel later became a nun.


Bateman, nicknamed ‘Colonel’, opened the Lyceum Theatre in London, with Henry Irving as the leading man and his daughter Isabel as the leading lady, e.g. Isabel was Ophelia and Irving was Hamlet in 1864. Auerbach considers Isabel to have been untalented as an actress. On Bateman's death in 1875 his wife less successfully ran the Sadlers Wells Theatre, with Isabel as the leading lady. Walter Sickert appeared with her company as Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in June 1880. Isabel remained on the stage until 1898 when she became a nun. She later became Mother Superior at the Anglican Sisterhood in Wantage.

As an actress, Isabel Bateman was much admired and frequently posed for painters. Interestingly there is a photograph of her by Juliet Margaret Cameron in the role of a nun. Whistler, however, drew her not in theatrical costume but in contemporary dress, Portrait of the actress Isabel Bateman (M.467).


Who Was Who in America. Historical Volume, 1607-1896, Chicago, 1963; Bateman, Isabel, From Theatre to Convent, London, 1936; Battiscombe, Georgina, Christina Rossetti: A Divided Life, London, 1981; Auerbach, Nina, Ellen Terry: Player in her Time, London, 1987; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995, accessed 21 May 2003.