"Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot" by Charles Haigh-Wood


The artist, Charles Haigh-Wood, RA (British, 1854-1927), was the father of Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot, first wife of TS Eliot. And, this appears to be a painting of her. The Eliots had a troubled marriage. Vivienne was an accomplished musician, painter, and dancer. But, she had crippling mental and physical health issues compounded by marrying Eliot, who was most likely gay. Two weeks after their wedding, Bertrand Russell wrote: “[The Eliots were] exquisite and listless. She says she married him in order to stimulate him, but finds she can't do it. Obviously he married in order to be stimulated. I think she will soon be tired of him.” TS eventually abandoned Vivienne. Unwilling to grant her a divorce, he moved out and instructed mutual friends to hide his whereabouts. She spent almost a decade frantically searching, contributing to a consensus that she was unhinged. Virginia Wolf wrote: “Oh – Vivienne! Was there ever such a torture since life began! – to bear her on one's shoulders, biting, wriggling, raving, scratching, unwholesome, powdered, insane, yet sane to the point of insanity, reading his letters, thrusting herself on us, coming in wavering trembling ... This bag of ferrets is what Tom [TS Eliot] wears round his neck.” She was eventually committed to an insane asylum and died.

Oil on Canvas

40 x 22 in.