Regency “It Girls” @ Bonhams

November 27, 2012 at 9:40 pm (diaries, fashion, history, news, people) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Thrilling happenings today. Over the last few days, with a new contact, I’ve been digging into the background of Bersted Lodge — this was the estate of Thomas and Susannah Smith, great aunt and uncle to my Emma Smith; and therefore Aunt and Uncle to her Aunt Emma.

So imagine my complete surprise to come across a watercolor – at Yale (in their British Center for Art) – of Bersted Lodge, done in 1831, by Anne Rushout. Who was she? Had she been at the Smiths’  Bersted Lodge in Bognor Regis in 1831? In one word: YES!

So I’ve been digging and digging…

and ultimately arrived at this little beauty, up for auction at Bonhams this past summer; you will NEVER guess what it sold for:

You may click on the picture to be taken to Bonhams site for a full description of this divine trio, but I will ID them:

  • Anne Rushout (c1768-1849)
  • Harriet Rushout (d. 1851), married Sir Charles Cockerell
  • Elizabeth Rushout (c1774-1862), married 1st Sydney Bowles; 2nd John Wallis Graeve (or Grieve?)

It was Harriet’s married name – Cockerell – that had me crowing: I remember transcribing a name that could be either Lady Cocherell or Lady Cockerell. Now I know… And I’ve not only Rushouts and Cockerells, I’ve at least one Mr Bowles, too.

But to get back to my trio of beauties.

Evidence suggests this work was commissioned by SYDNEY BOWLES – which makes it that much more special to me, for he obviously did not have a long life, if his widow remarried by 1819. Bonhams estimated the piece to sell for £10-15,000. It sold for an ASTOUNDING £67,250 !!! Whoa. Wonder: to whom??

I have found that the University of London has diaries (1828-1849) for Anne Rushout, including the time (I hope…) she spent at Bersted Lodge in 1831; Oxford’s Bodleian has letters to Harriet Lady Cockerell (alas, possibly not early enough for me – 1839-1850). But the interesting and somewhat perplexing note is that a 1958 article, based on diary entries for Anne Rushout, has her diaries spanning 1791 to 1845!?! I could easily suspect a division of the diaries in someone’s will; but what accounts for the additional years at the end?

I’d welcome any information on ANY of the Rushout Girls – but especially anything that puts them in contact with Mrs Thomas Smith (née Susan or Susannah Mackworth Praed); and especially about the whereabouts of those early-early 1791-1827 diaries belonging to Anne.

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Fashion News, Regency-Style

November 20, 2012 at 8:41 pm (books, diaries, entertainment, fashion, history, jane austen, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In today’s mail a copy of A Lady of Fashion: Barbara Johnson’s Album of Styles and Fabrics; this is a book LONG on my wish list and I finally broke down and obtained a copy. In wonderful shape! Can’t wait to have a sit down, drink a cup of tea, and really look and read.

For those unfamiliar with Barbara Johnson, her album is at the Victoria & Albert Museum – a great favorite with me when in London. They do have an online look at the album, into which Barbara pasted and pinned fashion plates and actual fabric samples for clothing she had made up:

This page shows some of Barbara’s descriptions, fabrics and pictures. I talked about this book way back in 2008!

Sabina at Kleidung um 1800 shared some wonder “fan-cheers” about the book – I’ll see if she’d mind my posting them. She has a unique view on the book, given you interest in costume. You will find a project “to die-for”: Sabine has been working on an 1806 Spencer worn by Queen Luise of Prussia. Just FAB-U-LOUS!

Colonial Williamsburg has a useful site containing fashion plates.

More about Barbara Johnson’s Album at Barbara Brackman’s Material Culture blogspot.

Regency History has fashion plates from La Belle Assemblée.

See the list of Ackermann’s Repository of Arts here on Two Teens in the Time of Austen.

Portrait Miniatures to give you added incentive can be found at Ellison Fine Art.

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Library Acquisition: John Rylands circa 1963

November 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm (diaries, europe, history, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

More on the letters written by young Lady Compton (the former Margaret Maclean Clephane). I came across this notation on escholar.manchester.ac.uk; it dates from 1963!

“Among recent accessions to the Manuscript Department is a small collection of letters written in the mid-eighteen-twenties to the Hon. Henry Edward Fox, later 4th and last Lord Holland, by Margaret, Countess Compton, from May 1828 until her death in 1830 Marchioness of Northampton. Although only forty in number they comprise over 160 well-filled pages and all save four, which date from July and August 1829, fall within the short period of nine months between October 1825 and June 1826. The Comptons lived in Italy from 1820 to 1830 and the first nine letters were written to Fox at the end of 1825 when he was also there. The majority, however, date from after his departure and during his visit to France between February and May in the following year. The greater part were written from Rome.

Apart from the personal side, their value is mainly social and literary. They are, for example, of interest for their remarks on and information concerning members of the English colony in Italy and common acquaintances in Italian Society, for Lady Compton comments freely. From this point of view they form a useful supplement to Fox’s Journal of 1818-30, edited by the Earl of Ilchester in 1923. Both Lady Compton and her husband interested themselves in literature and the fine arts and she writes of the artists then being patronized in Rome and of the artistic purchases being made. She also corresponded with Sir Walter Scott and in several letters refers to his financial difficulties at this time. Not least they demonstrate the esteem she had for Fox and, in spite of their quarrels, the close friendship that existed between them. This was no less fully appreciated by Fox, for, when she died in Rome in 1830, he wrote of her in his Journal as ‘my best and dearest friend … the being upon earth of whose regard and friendship I felt surest’.”

Those were NOT the thoughts Fox had upon first meeting Margaret, when he described her as “a gigantic, well-informed, hard-headed, blue Scotchwoman.” — Journal of Henry Edward Fox, 26 Nov 1824

I have found a few other tidbits of the Comptons over the last week as well.

Of course Walter Scott, formerly Margaret’s guardian, crops up. Here he is writing to Lord Byron:

“Should you meet Lady Compton in Society pray be acquainted with her — it is worth while for she is a very clever young woman and skilled in legendary lore–” (5 Jan 1816)

The letter was signed, “My best respects to Lady Byron & I am always, my dear Lord, most truly yours

Walter Scott

Scott, however, was not Lady Compton’s only champion! There is an obscure (to me) letter writer, poet Ugo Foscolo. In this third volume of letters, dating to the 1820s, the Comptons (more specifically, Lady Compton) are mentioned to two separate correspondents, for instance:

To Gino Capponi (30 June 1821),

“Gino mio,

     Tu hai conosciuto di certo lady Compton in Londra, ma ti gioverà di riconoscerla,, e vederla più davvicino; e quand’anche non abbia tempo nè occasioni di usara verso di te le gentilezze con che mi ha spesso onorato e consolato, pochi giorni di conversazione con lei ti rinfrescheranno il cuore, e ti solleveranno la mente,–“

{roughly: Dear Gino, You certainly knew lady Compton in London; it will benefit you to recognize it, and even if you do not have time nor occasion to meet with the kindness that I have often been honored with, a few days conversation with her will refresh your heart, and raise the mind–}

Margaret, Lady Compton, even appears in a personal letter to Mrs Georgiana Gell dated 13 January 1827.

The English colony in Rome, in Italy in general, may prove rich fishing for further information on my dear Smiths of Suttons.

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Bleak house? November Notes from Letters

November 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm (diaries, history, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Ah, the days have grown so short, now that the clocks are turned back. Night settles around the house, lights pop on at the flick of a switch, and I think of life for the Smiths & Goslings, 200 years ago.

So today I look up a few quotes, from November Letters and a Journal, to brighten up these lengthening November nights.

  • “Tuesday, being the 5th of Nov:br I tryed to get some squibs & crackers & at last John succeeded in making some, so we let them off last night.” — Drummond Smith, 6 Nov 1822, writing from Suttons, to his brother Spencer
  • “I believe Tanner has got a ferret, Miss M. mistook it one day for a very large rat.” — ditto
  • “you really can have no idea of how much we have to do, & how little time to spare, unless you could take a trip down here and spend a few weeks among us.” — Drummond Smith, 17 Nov 1824, writing from Harrow, to his eldest sister Augusta
  • “There have been several pugilistic encounters lately, I think I shall send Eliza notice that she may come, as she takes delight in them.” — ditto
  • “I afterwards went to Lady Compton’s  She is a gigantic, well-informed, hard-headed, blue Scotchwoman.” — Journal of Henry Edward Fox, 26 Nov 1824

And from the earlier generation:

  • “Dear Papa’s Eyes Glistened with Love & pleasure, he Blessed his little favorite  said she had always been a good Girl” — Sarah Smith, 13 Nov 1793, writing to her newlywed daughter, Eliza Chute
  • “I never heard of such a shameful conduct in any Officers as these Irish ones; swearing most shockingly, pass thro’ the Turnpikes without paying, they are the bane of Devizes, and no one can walk the Streets at night in safety.” — Emma Smith (“Aunt Emma”), 16 Nov 1794, writing to her sister Eliza Chute
  • “The accident would not have happened if he had staid at home with Lady Compton to knit.” — Eliza Gosling (Mary’s mother), 7 Nov 1795, writing from Roehampton Grove, to her friend Eliza Chute

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Colonial Williamsburg: Historic Threads

November 8, 2012 at 8:52 pm (fashion, history, jasna, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , )

Thought I’d share this wonderful website, pointing out the clothing information — but mention that visitors should look more fully at ALL the items on offer at Colonial Williamsburg’s history.org website:

This shows the array of items you can investigate: from portraits through materials. I dressed a young lady of the gentry! from stockings to pocket to cap and dress. It was fun – you can find it by clicking on “Dressing the Part“.

Now, you might be thinking “What does colonial-era clothing have to do with Two Teens in the Time of Austen?” Certainly, neither Mary nor Emma would have worn a gown like that above — but Lady Cunliffe certainly would have been familiar with the dress of this young lady. For those who wonder about Lady Cunliffe, Mary’s maternal grandmother, you can read a prior post by clicking on her portrait:

Lady Cunliffe in her portrait of 1761, painted by Joshua Reynolds.

* * *

two book recommendation:

The Dress of the People, John Styles (Yale U Press)
What Clothes Reveal, Linda Baumgarten (Yale U Press)

read my review of Styles’ book at JASNA
read about Styles’ upcoming Williamsburg 2013 Exhibit & Symposium:
Threads of Feeling Unraveled: The London Foundling Hospital’s Textile Tokens

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Jane-A-Day: a Jane Austen five-year diary

November 4, 2012 at 10:55 am (books, diaries, jane austen) (, , , , , )

Some frivolous “fun” for a grey Sunday morning:

A few days ago I came across this “Jane-a-Day” five-year diary published by Potter Style. Emma or Mary would perhaps not mind the few lines given over to each day, space left for five of each date; but my diary entries ramble and bellow, moan and thrill — I do, however, LOVE the quick burst of Austen quotation that each day brings. I include a few found through Amazon’s “look inside” feature:

 

I might have to hunt this book up just to dip into these pearls of humor and wisdom…

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Marriage of Materials

November 2, 2012 at 8:12 pm (books, diaries, history, news) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen will realize how “collecting” together diaries and letters and other ephemera, with items spread over the world, can be frustrating, rewarding, and time-consuming.

So to read that a discovery – in 2007, after nearly 80 years (since the 1930s) – occurred involving the diaries of Mary Boykin Chesnut was just a thrill. I HAVE THIS BOOK:

I LOVE diaries, nice and thick; like this one.

An album, begun in 1861, was mentioned – but it was something Woodward’s book wasn’t able to reproduce. Mary collected photographs during and even after the war; adding to her collection. Mary then worked at her writing….

After Mary’s death, like so many items relating to the Smiths and Goslings, items probably were “gifted” to different people. A niece, who died in 1931, was possibly the last family member to have the three albums. What happened to the albums is the tale you will hear if you listen to this podcast from October 2011:

How did word get out about Mary’s albums? They were on auction in Texas, and listed on eBay! Family members purchased the albums, promising to gift them to the USC’s Caroliniana Library. After a long separation, photo albums and diaries were to be reunited. A true “Marriage of Materials”.

The albums and Diary from Dixie have been published as the 2-volume Mary Chestnut’s Illustrated Diaries, by Martha M. Daniels and Barbara E. McCarthy.

Listen to the podcast for a wonderful “forensic” discussion of mid-19th century photography. Think about the phrase “We’ve never seen a picture of ….” for that was how I felt until seeing some of the drawings in Scenes from Life at Suttons. Ah, how I cried when I first flipped through that book, seeing Mamma for the first time, seeing Mary and Charles, finding dear Augusta Wilder’s picture. “The excitement…” indeed!

“Women had such a quiet role”

– Marty Daniels, quoting Mary Boykin Chesnut

 

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