King George VI Photo by Olive Edis Galsworthy circa 1920


Fine antique photo of King George VI as Duke of York, signed in pencil in the lower right hand corner by the photographer Olive Edis Galsworthy circa 1920.

George VI (1895 – 6 February 1952) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death. He was the last Emperor of India and the first Head of the Commonwealth.

As the second son of King George V, he was not expected to inherit the throne and spent his early life in the shadow of his elder brother, Edward. He served in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force during the First World War, and afterward took on the usual round of public engagements. He married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923 and they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret.

George's elder brother ascended the throne as Edward VIII upon the death of their father in 1936. However, later that year Edward revealed his desire to marry the divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin advised Edward that for political and religious reasons he could not marry a divorced woman and remain king. Edward abdicated in order to marry, and George ascended the throne as the third monarch of the House of Windsor.

During George's reign the break-up of the British Empire and its transition into the Commonwealth of Nations accelerated. The parliament of the Irish Free State removed direct mention of the monarch from the country's constitution on the day of his accession. Within three years, the Empire and Commonwealth, except the Irish Free State, was at war with Nazi Germany. In the next two years, war with Italy and Japan followed. Though Britain and its allies were ultimately victorious, the United States and the Soviet Union rose as pre-eminent world powers and the British Empire declined. After the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, George remained as king of both countries, but the title Emperor of India was abandoned in June 1948. Ireland formally declared itself a republic and left the Commonwealth in 1949, and India became a republic within the Commonwealth the following year. George adopted the new title of Head of the Commonwealth. He was beset by health problems in the later years of his reign. His elder daughter, Elizabeth, succeeded him.

(Mary) Olive Edis, later Edis-Galsworthy (3 September 1876 - 28 December 1955) was a British photographer who was famous for autochrome phototographs and portrait photography. She served as a war artist in World War I.

Olive Edis was a daughter of Arthur Wellesley Edis, Professor of gynaecology at University College Hospital. In 1903 she and her sister Katherine opened a studio in Sheringham, Norfolk where they specialised in portraits of local fisherman and members of the local gentry. She later had studios in Farnham, Surrey and Ladbroke Grove, London. Edis worked with platinum prints and from 1912 she pioneered colour autochrome photography . Her sitters included George Bernard Shaw, Emmeline Pankhurst and the Duke of York of which this is from one of those sittings.

Olive Edis was one of the first women photographers to make use of the autochrome process and she patented her own design of autochrome viewers, termed diascopes. In 1920 she was commissioned to create advertising photographs for the Canadian Pacific Railway and her autochromes of this trip to Canada are believed to be some of the earliest colour photographs of that country.

She joined the Royal Photographic Society in 1913 and was elected a Fellow in 1914. She was appointed an official war artist and photographed British Women's Services and the battlefields of France and Flanders 1918-19 for the Imperial War Museum. She married a Cambridge academic Edwin Henry Galsworthy, a cousin of the novelist John Galsworthy. She died in 1955. Cromer Museum in Cromer holds a large collection of her work including prints, autochromes and glass plate negatives.

Housed in a modern frame under conservation glass.

Size: 44.5 x 40.5 cm approx

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