Lallie Charles (1869 – 1919)
Lallie Charles (1869-1919) was a well-known society photographer based in Regent’s Park, London. Originally from Northern Ireland, Lallie moved to London with her sister, Rita Martin. Though her birth name was Charlotte, she adopted the name Lallie Charles and often went by the title of ‘Madame Charles’. In 1896, Lallie opened her first photographic studio in Regent’s Park.
Lallie produced some of the most commercially successful photographs during the early 20th century. She specialised in portraiture and took many photographs of London society figures. One of Lallie’s most notable clients was Queen Victoria, whom she photographed as a Princess in 1910. Gladys Cooper, a highly acclaimed actress, was also photographed by Lallie, demonstrating Lallie’s influence and prominence across London society.
It is essential to understand Lallie in the context of other influential women photographers of the period. Her photographic work and studio were inspired by the work of Alice Hughes, who had previously opened a photographic studio in London and famously photographed members of the Royal family and their sitters. Notably, both Lallie and her sister Rita were highly successful in their photographic practice and influenced each other.
Moreover, Lallie not only drew inspiration from notable women photographers of the period, but she also inspired many women to take up photography. The photographic artist Madame Yevonde was an apprentice for two years in Lallie’s studio.
Despite her commercial success and influence in the early twentieth century, Lallie’s work has since been largely forgotten. This is partly due to the fact that most of Lallie’s work is in private collections, and also due to historical silence about women photographic artists.
However, in 1994, the National Portrait Gallery received a gift of several negatives from Lallie and Rita’s niece, Lallie Charles Martin. These remaining photographs are largely self-portraits of Lallie and can be found and accessed via the National Portrait Gallery website.
By Anya Chuykov