Elizabeth was the devoted sister of John Opie. She was thirteen years older and he regarded her as a second mother in some ways.
It was Betty who helped the young boy practise his drawing and painting even when their father thought he was wasting his time. She would obtain the pencils from Truro if he wanted them.
She did not marry. When John had gone to London to seek – and find – his fortune, Betty stayed at Blowing House Cottage to look after their ageing mother. Unlike the rest of the family, she did visit London. On one occasion shebroke a finger off an Egyptian mummy in the British Museum and took it home to John, who with great hilarity mixed it into paint?
Betty communicated so frequently with John by letter that when she did not hear from him she became worried.
When the artist was in his final illness, Betty came up from Cornwall to help look after him.
She was to live to the age of seventy-eight. She probably died at Harmony Cot, the family home. The GENTLEMAN’S MAGAZINE 1826 (ii, p.475) says she died at Dawlish.
The portrait reflects great tenderness and shows the love John felt for her.