It is not every day one shares a station platform with Ellen Terry, the first wife of the artist; George Frederic Watts. The National Portrait Gallery’s website informs me that:
“It is at once a portrait and an allegory: Ellen must choose between the spectacular yet scentless camellias to which she inclines, and the small bunch of sweet-smelling violets cradled in her left hand. Whilst the latter symbolise innocence and simplicity the former signify worldly vanities, in this instance the empty vanity of the theatre, from which the artist sought to rescue her”.
…but I didn’t know that at the time; I was more interested in the contrasts between Ellen’s beauty and my own dishevelled state (standing in the vestibule between Bristol Parkway and Birmingham New Street adds years to one’s appearance).