The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Isabel Bateman, 1854-1934

Nationality: American
Date of Birth: 1854.12.28
Place of Birth:
Date of Death: 1934
Place of Death:


Isabel Bateman (sometimes referred to as Isobel or Isabella), the youngest daughter of the theatre manager and impresario Hezekiah Linthicum Bateman and Sidney Frances Cowell, was an actress. She later became a nun.


Bateman began her career on the stage aged sixteen. When her father opened the Lyceum Theatre in London, she played Ophelia opposite Henry Irving as Hamlet in 1864. On her father's death in 1875, her mother, less successfully, ran the Sadlers Wells Theatre, with Bateman as the leading lady. Walter Sickert appeared with her company as Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in June 1880. Bateman later became manager of the Lyceum Theatre. She remained on the stage until 1898 when she became an Anglican nun.

As an actress, 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. JW, however, drew her not in theatrical costume but in contemporary dress, Portrait of the actress Isabel Bateman (M.467).


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.