Iris Tree

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Iris Tree (27 January 1897 – 13 April 1968) was an English poet, actress and artists' model,[1] described as a bohemian, an eccentric, a wit and an adventurer.


Iris Tree by Modigliani, c. 1916

Tree's parents were actors Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree and Helen Maud Tree, and her sisters were actresses Felicity and Viola Tree. An aunt was author Constance Beerbohm, and her uncles were explorer and author Julius Beerbohm and caricaturist and parodist Max Beerbohm.[2]

Iris Tree was sought after, as a young woman, as an artists' model, being painted by Augustus John, simultaneously by Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry, and sculpted by Jacob Epstein, showing her bobbed hair (she was said to have cut off the rest and left it on a train) that, along with other behaviour, caused much scandal.[3][4] The Epstein sculpture is currently displayed at the Tate Britain.[2] She was often photographed by Man Ray, was friends with Nancy Cunard for a time, and acted alongside Diana Cooper in the mid-1920s.

She had studied at the Slade School of Art. She contributed verse to the 1917 Sitwell anthology Wheels; her published collections were Poems (1920) and The Traveller and other Poems (1927).

She married twice. Her first marriage was to Curtis Moffat, a New York artist; Ivan Moffat, the screenwriter, was their son. Her second marriage was to the actor and ex-officer of the Austrian cavalry, Count Friedrich von Ledebur. They both appeared (after their divorce) in the 1956 film version of Moby Dick. She also appeared as a poet, essentially as herself, in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita (1960).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tate. "Display caption: Iris Tree (1915) by Vanessa Bell". Tate. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b Toby Treves (September 2000). "Portrait of Iris Beerbohm Tree (1915) by Sir Jacob Epstein". Tate. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  3. ^ Rachel Cooke (21 September 2015). "The Rainbow Picnic by Daphne Fielding - one bright young thing on another". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Iris Tree by Duncan Grant". BBC Your Paintings. Retrieved 20 January 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • The Rainbow Picnic: a portrait of Iris Tree (1974) Daphne Fielding. London: Eyre Methuen

External links[edit]