Matilda Portrait in the Christopher Wren Dining Room

The Story of Matilda’s Portrait

Without question, the Christopher Wren Dining Room is one of the most beautiful rooms in The Hall. It is also home to the elegant portraits of Matilda and Alfred Wilson. Both paintings were created in 1927 by society portrait painter Louis Betts. Each painting shares a significant insight into the personalities of the Wilsons, and today we’ll examine Matilda’s portrait. The story goes that Matilda did not have a dress made for this painting, but rather fashioned a piece of cloth around herself to create an elegant gown full of movement. The more likely scenario is that Matilda sent a photograph of herself and a scrap of the fabric to Betts, who imagined the dress. In either case, we do still have the fabric depicted in the painting in The Hall’s extensive Textiles Storage. Additionally, the painting of Matilda is interesting because there are storm clouds behind her, which likely represent the challenges and changes of her lifetime, and she wears no jewelry. The lack of jewelry makes Matilda appear more approachable and demonstrates that although she was an extremely wealthy woman, she still had an air of unworldliness.