Isabella Stewart Gardner loved music and theater, and was a patron of the performing arts. She befriended artists, musicians, authors, and actors and memorialized her talented friends in thematically arranged glass-topped cases like the Modern Actors Case in the Long Gallery. One of her theatrical friends was George Arliss (1858–1946)— the first British actor to win an Academy Award.
Arliss wrote to Isabella in 1913, "I send you a large photograph, in the faint hope of expressing by its size the length and breadth of my regard. But realizing the relative value of space in your wonderful house and a large picture of myself, I send you a small photograph in the hope that you will give it a place amongst your many friends."
Isabella kept this photograph of Arliss with a dog in her personal treasure trove, the Vatichino.