Augusta: a Pen Pal sorta Gal

February 16, 2016 at 1:55 pm (diaries, entertainment, europe, history, people, research) (, , , , )


Although I’ve had photographs of this letter for almost TWO YEARS (lots of other letters came my way in that time…) I *finally* got around to transcribing a letter by Mary-Anne Perozzi, dated 24 April 1824.

It was one out of more than a hundred letters in a private collection. The name, wholly unfamiliar. The date intriguing, and yet I didn’t pay it a LOT of attention. The handwriting is exquisite, so it wasn’t the legibility that caused the delay. Just a lack of “interest” and “other things to do”.

But, last night, in an effort to have at least all letters from this collection transcribed (the two I’ve left: nearly ALL crossed and a couple of really scribbling hands), I finally did this one.

And got a surprise!

Although addressed to Lady Elizabeth Compton, the Smith siblings’ cousin, it contained a particularly “painful” section for me to read.

Mary-Anne (as she signed herself, though her direction — included at the end of the letter, as a reminder to Lady Elizabeth to write in return — reads Marianne) has an extensive “thank you” to Lady Elizabeth for the part she played in Mary-Anne obtaining “two fine drawings, or likenesses“. Now, deciphering these words I was, of course, thinking Lady Elizabeth had sent her something she had drawn. I’ve seen her work. She’s very talented! And, being in Rome, she could have taken her sketch book around the city.

But the word “likenesses” – they tend to use that word to indicate portraits.

THEN: I read on…

likenesses, which AUGUSTA had the kindness to make me a present of.

There’s only ONE Augusta who would have been referred to by her first name alone – and that would be Emma’s eldest sister, the extremely artistic Augusta Smith, renowed in the family for her ability at taking “likenesses”.

I was in Seventh Heaven (and in a bit of pain: Could they still exist? but where??).

THEN: I read on…

and which I have found VERY MUCH ALIKE to HER

So a portrait of Augusta herself (I had presumed it had been of Mary-Anne, perhaps)!

THEN: I read the rest of the sentence:

“very much alike to her, and to her MOTHER

ARGH! Two portraits of the Two Augustas, in 1824! a precious gift indeed. And Mary-Anne then had the manners to say “and very well performed“. So, Mary-Anne not only thought the portraits “very like” (a huge compliment, indeed) but also well drawn.

Oh… the… pain… of not being able to see them. And of thinking that they could be long gone – or “unknown” in some collection or archive.

As it happens there IS a further mention, in the Smith & Gosling letters, of Mary-Anne Perozzi. An 1824 letter that pre-dates one that I own. Written by Augusta, she makes a very brief comment of writing a letter to Mary-Anne!

I opened the transcriptions of Emma’s diaries, 1823 and 1824 – hoping for some “address” of Mary-Anne. Nothing. Perhaps she was a friend of Augusta more than any of the other girls.

Mary-Anne obviously kept up a correspondence. Her address was simply “Ancona”, and, although her English was quite good, it points to a woman as Italian-sounding as her last name. (And can be said to account for the slightly odd phrase, “very much alike to her”.) I had hoped to find a bit of a footprint left behind, but so far nothing. And, although I KNOW it’s too much to hope for: some of her letters (to or from Augusta or Lady Elizabeth) would be the frosting on the cake.

Mary-Anne wrote of obtaining the portraits from Lord and Lady Compton, who were visiting Ancona. I simply had to look it up. On the map, it’s south of Ravenna-Rimini-San Marino; on the opposite coast from Rome:

ancona map

The blown-up map shows an exquisite “hook” of land. And in photographs… it looks divine:

ancona from air

I can see what would have enticed the Comptons here, in 1824. And how Augusta (the Smiths BIG trip was from summer 1822 to summer 1823; and they wintered in Rome) might have met Mademoiselle Perozzi.

Augusta DID have a wider-ranging correspondence – I’ve found letters to the Lante delle Rovere family, for one instance of her Pen Pals abroad. Must confess, trying to read her tiny hand in English isn’t super hard, but these are described as “In lingua francese e italiana“. AND, to make matters worse, the letters from 1823 are described as “scrittura di base righe di testo in verticale“. So she, as USUAL, has crossed her writing. To have them, though, is something I MUST Do.

Fnding Mary-Anne Perozzi of Ancona makes me even MORE intent on obtaining images of the Lante Letters (one also by Lady Compton in the same collection).

heyer_cover

This Georgette Heyer reprint features the Raeburn portrait of Lord Compton, done only a short time before he once again saw Mademoiselle Perozzi.

As I always ask, IF anyone has any information – about the Perozzis, Ancona, the location of (more) letters or those likenesses, do contact me!

 

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