Mrs William Hesketh Lever, later 1st Lady Lever

LL 3115


Lever commisioned this portait of his wife on the advice of the art dealers Thomas Angew and Sons in 1896, and its success encouraged him to commision a portrait of himself (LL 3114) in March 1897. Fildes and Lever became good friends. Lever bought many of Fildes' paintings, and Fildes opened Lever's ‘Art exhibition to celebrate the Coronation of King Edward VII’ at Hulme Hall, Port Sunlight on 21 June 1902. Fildes gave a speech to mark the occasion, pleading for the elevated role of public art galleries in industrial communities. His words may have influenced Lever and his decision to found the Lady Lever Art Gallery. Mrs Lever played no part in the building of the Lady Lever Art Gallery or in the purchase of its collections, which were entirely the work of her husband. However, he dedicated the building to her memory on its eventual completion.