Mystery portrait ID’ed: Queen Elizabeth I

February 18, 2014 at 2:27 am (british royalty, estates, fashion, news, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , )

Back in November 2013 I ran a lengthy post, hoping to ID a portrait which was a focal piece in a drawing – possibly sketched by eldest sister Augusta Smith – of some room that was wholly unidentified.

mystery lady and deer

click photo to read original post

In trying to find information about the ceiling medallions in Tring Park’s drawing room (still in situ!), I found this Hertfordshire website that I’m sure I have read before. Only, last evening, it took on new meaning! The description is all about Drummond Smith’s Tring Park, c1802:

The apartments are handsomely furnished, and in several of them there are some good paintings, among which we cannot avoid noticing a singular whole length of Queen Elizabeth, which hangs in the small drawing-room upon the right of the hall. This painting is not improbably a copy of that by Zucchero, which hangs in the palace at Kensington….

In my original post I was hoping against hope that it might have been a family member. BUT: I’ve now found an image of that very “singular whole length” portrait!

queen elizabeth

Major OMG!

Several books, like this one from 1802, describe the painting, identifying it as a Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, and one among several full-length portraits owned by Drummond (Emma’s great uncle; it is his baronetcy that Charles Joshua Smith, Emma’s eldest brother, inherited). Rather than Kensington Palace, its home is Hampton Court. But even this portrait carries some mystery: fascinating article by Francis Carr (a companion page can be read here).

So much is up for grabs: the portrait’s sitter – its artist – the date it was done. But my mystery has been solved: The room at Tring which once contained the portrait in the sketch being described as “the small drawing room upon the right of the hall.”

faces of QEI

NB: In looking for confirmation that it is indeed a portrait of QEI, I found this fab array of portraits:

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Say it Ain’t So: Winchester flooding (2014)

February 17, 2014 at 1:28 pm (news) (, , )

News out of Britain has been rife this past weekend; now comes reports of the River Itchen overflowing its banks.

itchen

I remember taking this riverside walk, often!

Downtown Winchester – with its towering Cathedral (resting place of Jane Austen) – is not super far from this spot. The Itchen snakes through so many places I remember well, from my two months in the area, working at the Hampshire Record Office, with the letters and diaries of Emma, Mamma, Fanny, Eliza Chute, et al.

Here in New England, we’ve nothing but snow (and rain is now predicted for us, later in the week…); in Olde England nothing but rain. There is nothing worse than drastic flooding. Must get letters out to my friends, and see how they are fairing.

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Visitors to Bamburgh Castle, c1800-1820

February 16, 2014 at 1:38 pm (diaries, entertainment, history, jane austen, places, research, travel) (, , , , , )

While searching for information on the Northumberland Archives (nice online catalogue), I found an image – of a visitors’ book to Bamburgh Castle {where?}, and had to investigate WHY it turned up in a search for CARR GREGG.

A fantastic “slice of several lives” was revealed!

A “visitors’ book” is a litany of signatures, from those visiting a site (or hotel even); most will not contain more information that just a scrawled name. Yet in that name lies the “I was Here!” trace that is of use to me, 200 years later.

bamburgh castle_book

See images (4) and what seems a complete listing by clicking on the photo.

What rather thrills are the “oddly transcribed” names of a family which cannot be mistaken: the ladies of the family Maclean Clephane!

First, however, if you (like me) aren’t sure what Bamburgh Castle was/is – take a look at their website:

bamburgh castle_site

Lindisfarne Castle, a place I’ve longed to visit, is in the neighborhood of Bamburgh Castle – and looking into the history of this place I have to ask why was this never on my radar. Lindisfarne, however, is a National Trust property, and I’ve got at least one “Trust” publication. Bamburgh Castle continues as the “private home of the Armstrong family to this day.”

But what of my 19th-century visitors? Who did I find?

One family should come as no surprise: the Davisons of Swarland, Northumberland. Their visit is one of the earliest, taking place in 1801: “Mr and Mrs and 2 Masters Davison from Swarland, Northumberland“, e.g., Alexander Davison, Harriet Davison née Gosling (William’s sister; Mary’s aunt), and their two sons, the twins William and Hugh Percy (born in 1788). Even without further information – no thoughts about what they viewed – just knowing they toured the place puts the Davisons a little closer to “reality”. Perhaps Harriet once wrote Eliza Gosling, to tell them of their day out…

Another pair of visitors that same year are designated as “Mr Carr and Miss Carr from Newcastle upon Tyne“; the Carrs marry into the Gregg family – as did Maria Gosling, the remaining sister of William and Harriet (Davison) Gosling. Letters from the Carrs are often dated “Newcastle”; certainly those visitors from 1809 are them: “Mr. and Mrs Carr from Dunston Hill Co. Durham“; several Carrs turn up in the Bamburgh Castle visitors’ book.

An interesting name crops up in 1814: “Colonel and Mrs. Austen“. That spelling of the Austen name had my heart in palpitations for a moment; but surely NOT Henry Austen, as my first thought had flown to. A little digging, and I may have uncovered the correct man: Col. THOMAS Austen (1775-1859) “the second but eldest surviving son of Francis Motley Austen (d. 1815) and his wife Elizabeth, nee Wilson.” He inherited Kippington in 1817.

An 1819 party was of more immediate interest: “Colonel and Mrs. Davison from Swarland Hall. Mr. Henry Gregg and family.” Here was one of the twins, all grown up and perhaps married (Mrs D. could be his mother Harriet), in company (surely not separate visits) with Maria and Henry Gregg, and some (all?) of their children! Oh, for some letters from 1819!! Mary mentions her Davison cousins several times in her late diaries; Aunt Davison is only mentioned (in Charles’ diaries) following the news of her death.

And finally to the puzzling transcription, back in 1815: “Mrs. D. Maclean and Miss Maclean from Cliphane. Miss Wilmisson Maclean from Cliphane“. This can be none other than Mrs Douglas Maclean Clephane and her daughters, Anna Jane and Wilmina. After seeing letters of Margaret Maclean Clephane (after her marriage, Lady Compton; later, Lady Northampton), with a difficult hand where words often run together, I cannot be surprised at transcriptions like Wilmisson and Cliphane.

Several very small pieces of an extremely large puzzle, but welcome nonetheless.

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Darcy’s Antidote – Day 3

February 10, 2014 at 5:35 am (books, entertainment) (, , , , )

Monday, 10 February – Instead of Curling…

girl with pearl

…. Girl with a Pearl Earring (2004)

I’ve not seen this since it was new in local theaters. Gosh! to think that was ten years ago! For, as a birthday treat, my mother and I went to see this in February. It only played in downtown Burlington (Vermont), and I had (mistakenly…) parked on the street, at a meter. An overwhelming memory remains: Would the film end in time for me to fetch the car, or would I get ticketed?!?

(alas, no parking ticket birthday present…it is a rather short film (100 minutes); and I vowed, from that day, to ALWAYS park in the nearby parking garage! Or, only go to that movie theater on a Sunday, when parking is FREE.)

LOT of discussion at the time about the wig poor Colin wore. I remember being very drawn into the exquisite look of Essie Davis in costume (she’s now in 1920s garb for the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries!). Scarlett Johansson had a remarkable resemblance to the Vermeer Girl, don’t you think? The first Tracy Chevalier book I had ever read, I enjoyed the film immensely. My mother,  ‘former’ reader who doesn’t read much at all nowadays, was less impressed. And she hated the lusting Van Ruijvan (Tom Wilkinson), because his actions (and thoughts of actions) disgusted her!

Now I’m torn — pull out the book? get the film? Or BOTH!

In preparing my “Mr Darcy’s Antidote to The Olympics”, I came across (you will know where to look; if you don’t and want a link, email me) the FABULOUS BBC documentary, Vermeer: Private Life of a Masterpiece. Exceptionally interesting, in its discussion of Vermeer’s art, as well as the “history” of one particular piece of art. Will whet your appetite for George Clooney’s The Monuments Men (watch the documentary and you will see Vermeer’s Hitler history).

Find the film a Winner/Loser?
Gold – Silver – Bronze?

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Darcy’s Antidote – Olympics 2

February 9, 2014 at 12:03 pm (entertainment, jane austen) (, , , , )

Sunday, 9 February – Instead of Luge…

lost in austen

….. Lost in Austen (2008)

Perhaps the “original” Austen-Next-Gen, Lost in Austen created such buzz that many of us in the US quickly sought it out on YouTube. Girls just gotta have fun… As “Mr Darcy” (Elliot Cowen, above) takes a dip to indulge a lady (Jemima Rooper). Must admit, if I remember correctly, I rather liked Darcy in modern London even better than Amanda back in Regency England. Time to tune in again, and see if it stands up. If you want a more-serious follow-up, read Laurie Kaplan’s “Lost in Austen and Generation-Y Janeites” in Persuasions On-line (2010). And (by the way) Elizabeth Bennet is played by St Trinian’s “head girl” Gemma Arterton.

Seen it? Find it a Winner/Loser?
Gold – Silver – Bronze?

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Mr Darcy’s Antidote to The Olympics

February 8, 2014 at 8:50 pm (entertainment, jane austen) (, , )

Bored with sports? Want a “Mr Darcy” fix — here’s some suggested antidotes:

Saturday, 8 February – Instead of Men’s Sprint…

st trinians…. St Trinian’s (2007)

Campy, fun, cheery, irreverent. Watched this tonight and rather enjoyed it. LOTS of familiar faces from several “Jane Austen” films… And it started the ball rolling on this series of blog posts by having TWO Mr Darcy’s! The “original” (Colin Firth, above) and a little chap whom Miss Fritton (Rupert Everett) can’t quite control.

Watched it? Find it a Winner/Loser?
Gold – Silver – Bronze?

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Fun with Astrology

February 4, 2014 at 9:34 pm (entertainment, fashion) (, , , , , , , , )

A few weeks ago Charlotte Frost and I were discussing make-up –> Regency era, tutorials, reenactors, &c &c. Last week I watched — and greatly enjoyed — this video by Rochelle & Olivia:

marie antoinette

So it was with a bit of a “hoot n’holler” that I read last week’s horoscope for my star-sign, Aquarius (at 7 Days, a local (Vermont) weekly):

Extravagant wigs became fashionable for a while in 18th-century England. They could soar as high as four feet above a woman’s head. Collections of fruit might be arrayed in the mass of hair, along with small replicas of gardens, taxidermically stuffed birds and model ships. I would love to see you wear something like that in the coming week.”

Charlotte had a couple more links; promise to look them up and post them later!

duchess plaza toro

My favorite “Lady who let a ship go to her head”:
the Duchess of Plaza Toro
1983 Stratford (Ontario)
The Gondoliers: Douglas Chamberlain

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Updated “Walks Through Regency London”

February 3, 2014 at 10:08 am (books, entertainment, jane austen, london's landscape) (, , , , , )

Louise Allen‘s website mentions not only the sale-thru-mail of her delightfully-handy booklet, Walks Through Regency London, it also announces an updated Kindle version is now available at Amazon (only $2.99!) and Amazon.uk – you’ll enjoy these ten walks immensely.

walksthroughregencylondon

Don’t have a Kindle? there are FREE reading apps available. I have one for my computer! Other apps for Cloud Reader, MACs, Blackberry, iPad – and more.

Louise also is the author of Walking Jane Austen’s London: A Tour Guide for the Modern Traveller. This, too, available from an Amazon near you.

walkingjaneausten

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Clerk of the House of Commons: Sir Denis Le Marchant

February 2, 2014 at 3:06 pm (history, london's landscape, people) (, , , )

In 1850 (ie, a bit past the period I research), Sir Denis Le Marchant — husband to Emma’s sister Sarah Eliza Smith — became Clerk of the House of Commons (a position held until 1871).

At a loose end today, I was on the hunt for more … of anything … letters … diaries … info.

I found an anecdote!

I wouldn’t have thought Denis had such a sense of humor (or was it self-preservation?). Do click on the photo to hear Sir Robert Rogers, current Clerk of the House of Commons, give his delightful talk, but below is the tale he tells of Sir Denis.

sir robert rogers

In describing the duties of the Clerk, Sir Robert claims (at 15:46), “We do try, of course, to be a bit more helpful then one of my learning predecessors, Sir Denis Le Marchant in Victorian times, where the Speaker of the day could see that there was disaster approaching. He leaned forward and he said ‘Sir Denis, Sir Denis, what do I do?’ and the Clerk of the House got up, tipped his wig on his head, gathered his books, shrugged his gown around his shoulders and went and stood beside the Chair and the speaker obviously thought, ‘right this is it, I’ve got the get out of jail card.’  Sir Denis Le Marchant said ‘I advise you Sir, to be extremely cautious’ and then disappeared behind the Chair.

Denis_etching-1874-Illustrated London News

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