BRILLIANA’s project The Lost Romance of Elizabeth Linley is taking shape! Here is an update on our progress so far:
The project began with Gainsborough’s portrait of the young Elizabeth Linley and her sister Mary in Dulwich Picture Gallery. We have continued (and very much enjoyed) scouring museums and galleries for more clues to her story. From ivory tickets for Sheridan’s Theatre Royal at the British Museum to Reynolds’s sketch of Elizabeth Linley as Charity at the Ashmolean, there are many traces that hint at her extraordinary fame. We’re looking forward to visiting Gainsborough House in Sudbury and the Holburne Museum in Bath for more clues. And as we do so, we are meeting curators who may help us in finding a museum context in which to screen the film when it is finished.
We have added to this by researching contemporary written sources, from personal letters to the lurid Twitter-like exchanges in the Bath Chronicle. Although this project is a 3-minute portrait and not the narrative feature film that Eliza deserves, we have been able to use some of this in the introduction to the film, where we will incorporate quotes to create the atmosphere of wonder and gossip that surrounded our heroine. We are grateful to the Tickell family (the descendants of Eliza’s sister Mary) for sharing some of their archive and to Alan Chedzoy for his vivid account of Eliza’s life in Sheridan’s Nightingale: The Story of Elizabeth Linley (Allison & Busby 1997).
CREATING FILM-READY ASSETS
The most painstaking aspect of the project is creating the 3D virtual model of Mrs Sheridan aged 31 (as in the Gainsborough portrait now in Washington). We want to pay tribute to her fashion-forward reputation, understanding how her head of loose curls is styled and how her layers of petticoats, silks and gauze are constructed and how they would have moved. Fortunately, around us in Cooper’s Yard Studios, we have historical fashion experts Catherine Shawe and Deborah Tallentire, whose advice has been invaluable.
Alongside this, we have been preparing for animation, working with actor Andromeda Godfrey to explore the subtle facial expressions that Gainsborough has so skilfully captured. We are now working hard to complete a highly detailed rig, which will drive our 3D Eliza model and enable sensitive and emotive animation. Separately, we have been creating other essential assets, including a digitally painted sky and distant landscape to serve as a Gainsborough-style backdrop.
Our next goal is to complete the character model, digitally tailoring her costume and testing the algorithms that will ruffle her cloth and hair. At the same time, we will be using the latest version of The Unrecorded’s music to test the timings of the edit and ensure that the images we plan to show create a coherent and emotive portrait of Elizabeth Linley. We will then move onto animation, lighting, rendering and post production. By next year, we will be ready for distribution to museums, festivals and online.
Keep up to date through our Twitter feed @LonAnim!