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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Georgette Heyer’s BATH TANGLE

July 24, 2013 at 9:54 am (books, british royalty, diaries, history, news) (, , , , , , , )

Now, I was rather pleased to see the portrait of Spencer Compton (Emma’s cousin; later the 2nd Marquess of Northampton) gracing the cover of a recent edition of a Georgette Heyer novel. Even so, it was a bit of a curious find when, searching for Lady Smith-Burgess, I stumbled upon this serialization of Miss Heyer’s Bath Tangle in THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WEEKLY, 3rd installment of 6 in the issue dated 13 April 1955. Heyer mentions the rumor of the marriage of Lady Smith-Burgess to Lord Poulett!

heyer_smith burgess

Lady Smith-Burgess was the widow of Emma’s great uncle Sir John (brother to Emma’s maternal grandfather, Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park). Indeed the couple married in the summer of 1816, the time period for this novel.

But why on earth would Heyer chose this couple?

You can see through my new Smith&Gosling Timeline what was happening in the Smith family c1816.

Susannah Praed Smith also made note of the upcoming events in her diary:

Thurs:y 18th Mr Smith was obliged to go to Town on business – and we received a letter from Lady Smith Burges to tell us the day was fixed for her Marriage with Lord Poulett and to desire us all to be present at the ceremony = on account of its taking Place the 23d – we thought we had better go to London the day before – &

Mond:y 22d we left Bersted very early – got to Norfolk St before five OClock – found Mr Smith at home expecting us –

Tues:y 23d The Duke of Clarence dined with us – and in the Evening H: R H: went with us to Picadilly – as he was to give her Lady Burges away….

Ah, ha! The Duke of Clarence, of course, was the future King William IV; undoubtedly, their marriage was BIG news in 1816, and Heyer used it to advantage.

heyer_bath tangle

You can read the entire serialization at TROVE:

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Queen Advertises for Maid

October 24, 2012 at 7:34 pm (books, british royalty, history, jane austen, jasna, news, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

On tonight’s news, the “bulletin” that the Queen of England is in search of a … MAID! See my recent post on the EXCELLENT BBC series, Servants:The True Story of Life Below Stairs with Pamela Cox.

The “Housekeeping Assistant” works 40 hours per week, and is expected to spend three months out of London.

Accommodation is available.

Apply by the 26th!

The London household is also looking for, among other positions, a gardener, an events coordinator; the Windsor household is looking for a groom.

I am reminded to mention again a book purchased a few years ago in Montreal at dear Nicholas Hoare Bookstore: Mrs Woolf and the Servants, by Alison Light.

I also recently read a FASCINATING account of servants in Jane Austen’s novelsJudith Terry (U of Victoria, BC) entitled her survey “Seen but not heard: Servants in Jane Austen’s England.” I must confess that I couldn’t have named half of those servants Terry has unearthed!

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Queen Victoria tweets!

June 5, 2012 at 11:49 am (british royalty, diaries, europe, history, news, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Charlotte Frost, a great friend to Two Teens in the Time of Austen ever since the publication of her excellent biography Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician, has alerted readers to the most wonderful news any “subject” could hear about in a Jubilee year: The Royal Archives have digitalized Queen Victoria’s journals!

**Access the journals via their homepage: Queen Victoria’s Journals**

What do you get when you visit? “In total 141 volumes of her journal survive, numbering 43,765 pages. They have never before been published in their entirety and have hitherto only been accessible to scholars by appointment…”


Here is Victoria’s sketch of the singer Mademoiselle Grisi, 1834.

Sketches have their own search & see page – and just looking at all of this young girl’s work, over the years, gives a genuine thrill for those of us studying “naive” art in the 19th century. Her children’s portraits are sheer delight.

Marina Warner has written about Queen Victoria Sketching, and included comments about early lessons with Richard Westall, RA.

I LOVE that you even have choices to see Victoria’s “originals”, or later transcriptions and typescripts.

So why have I headed this blog post “Queen Victoria tweets“? In a statement, the Palace announced not only this digitization project, but also two other “projects”:

  • Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Scrapbook
  • “Over the Diamond Jubilee period, the Twitter account @QueenVictoriaRI will tweet selected excerpts from Queen Victoria’s Journals, illustrated by links to photographs, paintings and original documents. This account will run from 24th May until 7th June”

 * * *

NOTE OF LIMITED-TIME OFFER: except in the UK, access to Queen Victoria’s journals have an expiry date! Visit before July 1st… Those that giveth, also taketh away.

UPDATED: hurrah – but hurry: access has been extended to 31 July 2012 due to “the very positive response”.

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Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

June 2, 2012 at 6:49 am (british royalty, history) (, , , )

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London’s Landscape: The Custom House

May 31, 2011 at 8:47 pm (london's landscape, places, travel) (, , , , , , , )

How fortuitous! Only last week was I trying to find some information about a certain “Mr Hames” who may be a “Mr Haines” of the Custom House, and today I find this wonder 1816 image of the riverside facade!

Let me fill you in on the dilemma…

When you travel to transcribe you also leave with nothing to compare your transcription to should a question arise. This happened when, in two letters, I encountered the abovementioned Mr H.

In spring 1823 the younger children, Charlotte and Maria, were writing to this mother and siblings who had ventured to the Continent and stayed the winter in order to see Rome! An inquiry must have turned up, for young Charlotte (born in 1810) is responding when she says, “We heard from Mr Haines [note!] that you had written to him to know if you might send some dresses to England, he says they must seem as if they had been worn.”

Emma later writes to Aunt, “Mamma begs you to be so kind as to offer to pay Mr Hames [note!!] (of the Custom House) for the money he has paid for our things….”

So… was it ME and I mis-read either Charlotte or Emma’s handwriting? Did Charlotte not know how the man spelled his name, but Emma did? Without heading back to Essex and Hampshire, I’ll not know.

Though I’m hopeful of ID’ing him through newspapers of the period.

Anyway: the building itself is much easier to discuss than some cog-in-the-wheel worker who paid for some trunks of clothing from Italy in 1823!

This picture is found in The Repository of Arts, July 1816 (see the issues found online). Some interesting tidbits accompanies it:

  • “The Custom-House erected at the commencement of Queen Elizabeth’s reign … destroyed by the great conflagration in 1666”
  • the new building, together with 120 houses, also burned down – in 1715; 50 persons died.
  • the next successor also burned – in 1814.

While this building (before it burned) was deemed “inadequate to the vast increase of commercial business”, the Board of Customs “abandoned the idea of making additions to the old building”. “[P]lans were prepared for a building on a magnificent scale, and of a very classic design, the first stone of which was laid, with the usual ceremonies, at the south-east corner [between the old Custom House and Billingsgate], on the 25th of October, 1813.

“This building is great in its features of design, and substantial in the dimensions of its parts…[and] is highly honourable to the abilities of Mr. Laing, the architect: but, unfortunately, the situation is not favourable to a display or to an inspection of its merits; for the grandeur of the outline cannot be sufficiently seen, owing to the comparatively confined terrace or quay….”

Oh, dear.

“The front is of Portland stone, and consists of an Ionic superstructure, supported by a basement, and finished by an attic. the centre … contains the great room, which is lighted by nine large arched windows; the central entrance beneath is {flanked} by flights of steps on each side; and a projecting portion of the basement sustains recumbent figures of Ocean and Commerce. The attic of the centre is decorated by a fine bas-relief 200 feet long, with figures 5 feet 6 inches high, representing our commercial alliances, and executed by Mr. Bubb. Above this is a group of figures representing Industry and Ingenuity, supporting a dial.”

“Though all the desired results … cannot be expected, from its crowded situation, yet its effect from the entrance of the metropolis over London bridge is very striking, and foreigners, who visit the port of London, on viewing it, must speak with respect of our architectural talent, and of the magnificence of this national edifice.”

more later!

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