Olive Edis

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Olive Edis. Autochrome self-portrait

(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.[1]


(Mary) 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.[2]

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.[3]

In 1914, Edis was elected a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society. 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.[2] She married a Cambridge academic Edwin Henry Galsworthy, a cousin of the novelist John Galsworthy. She died in 1955.[4]

Cromer Museum in Cromer holds a large collection of her work including prints, autochromes and glass plate negatives.


  1. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/54348.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b Witness: Women War Artists. Catalogue for the exhibition at Imperial War Museum North 7 February 2009 – 19 April 2009
  3. ^ Olive Edis (1876-1955) at Luminous-Lint. Accessed 10 March 2013.
  4. ^ Portraits of Olive Edis at the National Portrait Gallery, London

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