Dene, Dorothy

BORN 1859, London - DIED 27 Dec 1899, London
BIRTH NAME Pullan, Ada Alice
CAUSE OF DEATH peronitis
GRAVE LOCATION London: Kensal Green Cemetery, Harrow Road, Kensal Green (160/PS (37840))

Dorothy Dene had four sisters. Her father, the engineer Abraham Pullan from Yorkshire, left the family and her mother Sarah died in 1881. She had first met Frederic Leighton in 1879 and she became his most important model and often painted her until his death in 1898. She is best remembered as the model for his paintings "The Bath of Psyche" (1890) and "Flaming June" (1895), although it has been suggested by the art historian Martin Postle that Mary Lloyd (not the same woman as Marie Lloyd, the actress) was the model for "Flaming June".

Leighton encouraged Dene to become an actress and paid Isabella Glyn to teach her. She was a pupil of Mary Jane Chippendale as well. But her acting talents didn't match her beauty and her success was moderate. She debuted in 1885 in Willi's "Gringoire" as Louise at the Prince's Theatre. In 1886 she appeared as Cassandra in "The Story of Orestes" and this was her most succssful part. In 1892 and 1893 she visited the USA. In 1894 she played in the provinces in England in "A Woman of no Importance".

Her sisters Hetty, Edith and Li also posed for Leighton. There were rumours that Dene and Leighton were in a relationship and when he died he left a substantial sum to her and her family. She also worked as a model for G.F. Watts and Edward John Poynter. Possibly G.B. Shaw used Leighton and her for his characters Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolittle in "Pygmalion". She died in 1899 of peronitis, aged 39.

Related persons
• was pupil of Glyn, Isabella


The grave of Dorothy Dene at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.
Picture by Androom (02 Aug 2019)


Dorothy Dene - Wikipedia

Denera, Erna

Published: 01 Sep 2019
Last update: 21 Aug 2021