Jenny Lind (1820-1887), the 'Swedish Nightingale', was known throughout America and Europe for her incredible vocal technique, intense role interpretations and her sincere and unassuming ways. Emerging from poor circumstances in Sweden, she attained global fame and adulation not disimilar to modern day pop icons.
Born in Stockholm in 1820, she is said to have been able to repeat a song that she had heard once at the age of three. Her childhood was marked by hardship and unsettled conditions. However her talents had been noticed by the Royal Opera and the company paid for her to recieve full training. By the age of sixteen she had become the darling of the Stockholm Opera.
Jenny made her international debut in Berlin in 1844 and toured throughout Europe. Queen Victoria saw her perform in Dresden and wrote in her diary 22 April 1846 ' The great event of the evening..., was Jenny Lind's appearance and her complete triumph. She has the most exquisite, powerful, and really quite peculiar voice, so round, soft, and flexible'. Europe was caught up in Jenny Lind fever.
Phineas Taylor Barnum, the great American showman, encouraged Lind to travel to America in 1850. His great influence as an advertiser roused huge interest in the singer, and Lind did not disappoint. She was now a global hit, new dances were choreographed and named after her such as the 'Jenny Lind Polka'.
Following her marraige to Otto Goldschmidt, the famous German painist, Jenny rarely appeared on stage. She turned her energies more completely to the various charities and philanthropic causes that she had always supported throughout her career, never having forgotten the humble beginnings from where she came.
This present watercolour was painted posthumously two years after the singers death. It is a celebration of one of the greatest 19th Century theatrical and musical icons.
Two portraits of Jenny Lind are in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London.