Love letters

Portrait of the artist as a tragic figure whose love for a lady was not returned

SHE was a beautiful socialite, the eldest daughter of the Sixth Marquess of Anglesey and granddaughter of the Eighth Duke of Rutland.He was a brilliant artist who mixed with some of the most creative young people of the day – but although Rex Whistler was favoured by the late Queen Mother he was not of aristocratic birth.

Now the moving story of Whistler’s infatuation with Lady Caroline Paget can be followed in intimate detail. The National Trust has placed his recently-acquired love letters on public display at Plas Newydd, where Lady Caroline once lived on the shore of the Menai Strait.His love letters tell only one side of the story, and nobody knows how far she reciprocated his feelings.“He was killed, aged 39, on his first day of action in Normandy in July 1944. We have a letter from his brother telling Caroline.”Five years later, Lady Caroline married Sir Michael Duff, grandson of the fourth Earl of Lonsdale and godson of Queen Mary, wife of King George V. He owned the Faenol estate, on the opposite side of the Menai from Plas Newydd, and now the venue of Bryn Terfel’s annual festival. The marriage became acrimonious. She died, aged 59, in 1973.

Wall of Silence

Vaynol Old Hall

Plas Newydd


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