Portrait of Mary, Duchess of Gloucester (1776-1857) (copy) @ Gorringes [Part 3]

Duchess of Gloucester 1850 Winterhalter Copy

Portrait of Mary, Duchess of Gloucester (1776-1857) (copy) @ Gorringes [Part 3]

[Continued from Part 2]

As it has become customary with my blog entries, here is an abbreviated ancestry of the sitter, limited to the first three generations:

  1. HRH Mary, Princess of Great Britain and Ireland, etc (1776-1857)
  2. HM George III William Frederick, King of Great Britain cr 1760 (Norfolk House 4.06.1738-Windsor Castle 29.01.1820), m. St James’s Palace 8.09.1761
  3. HSH Sophie Charlotte Herzogin von Mecklenburg-Strelitz (Mirow 19.05.1744-Kew Palace 17.11.1818)
  4. HRH Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales (Hannover 20.01.1707-Leicester House 20.03.1751), m. St James’s Palace 8.05.1736
  5. HSH Augusta Prinzessin von Sachsen-Gotha (Gotha 30.11.1719-Carlton House 8.02.1772)
  6. HSH Karl I Ludwig Friedrich, Herzog von Mecklenburg-Strelitz (Strelitz 23.02.1708-Mirow 5.06.1752), m. Eisenfeld 5.02.1735
  7. HSH Elisabeth Albertine Prinzessin von Sachsen-Hildburghausen (Hildburghausen 3.08.1713-Neustreiltz 29.06.1761)
  8. HM George II Augustus, King of Great Britain cr 1727 (Hannover 30.10.1683-Kensington Palace 25.10.1760), m. Hannover 22.08.1705
  9. HSH Karoline Markgrafin von Brandenburg-Ansbach (Ansbach 1.03.1683-St James’s Palace 20.11.1737)
  10. HSH Friedrich II Herzog von Sachsen-Gotha (Gotha 28.07.1676-Altenburg 23.03.1732), m. Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha 7.06.1696
  11. HSH Magdalene Auguste Prinzessin von Anhalt-Zerbst (Zerbst 13.10.1679-Altenburg 11.10.1740)
  12. HSH Adolf Friedrich II Herzog von Mecklenburg-Strelitz (Grabow 19.10.1658-12.05.1708), m.3rd Strelitz 10.06.1705
  13. HH Christiane Emilie Antonie Prinzessin von Schwarburg-Sonderhausen (March 1681-Mirow 1.11.1715)
  14. HSH Ernst Friedrich I Herzog von Sachsen-Hildburghausen (Gotha 21.08.1681-Hildburghausen 9.03.1724), m. Erbach 4.02.1704
  15. HH Sofie Albertine Grafin von Erbach-Erbach (Erbach 30.07.1683-Eisenfeld 4.09.1742)

HRH Mary, Princess of Great Britain and Ireland, etc (1776-1857), married in 1816 her cousin, HRH William Frederick, 2nd Duke of Gloucester & Edinburgh, Earl of Connaught (1776-1834).

The couple had no children.

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2014

Portrait of Mary, Duchess of Gloucester (1776-1857) (copy) @ Gorringes [Part 2]

Duchess of Gloucester 1850 Winterhalter Copy

Portrait of Mary, Duchess of Gloucester (1776-1857) (copy) @ Gorringes [Part 2]

[Continued from Part 1]

The sitter was the fourth daughter and eleventh child of King George III and Queen Charlotte of Great Britain. She was considered to be the most beautiful of the six daughters, but similarly to her sisters, Mary’s prospects of connubial bliss were overshadowed by the illness of her father, domineering spirit of her mother, historical events, and the political instability in Europe. Eventually, in 1816, she married her cousin William, Duke of Gloucester. Although the marriage would have been vetoed by her father who disapproved marriages between cousins in general, and of the Gloucester family in particular, the union took place during George III’s illness and was only made possible with the mediation of the Prince Regent.

The Duchess of Gloucester commissioned Winterhalter to paint her portrait as a birthday present to her niece, Queen Victoria, with whom she was very close. When the Duchess died in 1857, at the age of 81, having outlived all her brothers and sisters, Queen Victoria wrote: “With her is gone the last link, which connected us with a bygone generation. She was an authority on everything, a bright example of loyalty, devotion and duty, the kindest and best of mistresses, and friends. She had become like a grandmother to us all, from her age, and from her being the last of the family.”

To be continued … [see part 3].

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2014

Portrait of Mary, Duchess of Gloucester (1776-1857) (copy) @ Gorringes (cat no 389) [Part 1]

Duchess of Gloucester 1850 Winterhalter Copy

Portrait of Mary, Duchess of Gloucester (1776-1857) (copy) @ Gorringes [Part 1]

Replicas and copies of Winterhalter’s works are becoming increasingly valuable on the art market. However, they can still slip by unnoticed and undetected with a relative ease at art auctions.

For example, the auction house Gorringes, of Lewes, East Sussex, featured in one of their auctions in April 2006 a painting which they described as “Victorian School, Portrait of an Old Lady” (illustrated above).

The painting is, in fact, an exceptionally fine copy of Franz Xaver Winterhalter’s Portrait of Mary, Duchess of Gloucester (1776-1857), the original of which, signed and dated as painted in 1850, is in the collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, possibly at Buckingham Palace.

The portrait shows Queen Victoria’s seventy-four year old aunt at head-and-shoulders, in half-turn to the left, turning her head towards the viewer. Her hair is parted in the middle and plaited around the ears in an early Victorian style. It is covered by a blue and white lace headdress, which is fastened under her chin, and descends onto her shoulders. The Duchess is wearing a dark-brown day dress, possibly of satin or silk, with ruches and embroideries, and with a white collar edged with lace. Her decorations comprise of a single golden brooch just visible under the lace; and a heavy pendant, possibly a large miniature or a watch, suspended from a heavy gold chain.

The portrait clearly shows Winterhalter’s versatility in depicting sitters of all ages. The artist has been frequently accused of beautifying and idealising his sitters, but as this portrait shows, he does not shy away from the veristic though sympathetic depiction of the venerable old age.

I have only seen a photograph of the work at Gorringes online, and not in high resolution. It is most likely a copy by William Corden, a professionally trained painter of extraordinary talent, who, together with his son William was employed by Queen Victoria almost exclusively as a copyist. However, the exceptionally high quality of the portrait, that comes forth even through this low resolution, makes me wonder whether this could be indeed Winterhalter’s own replica.

To be continued … [see part 2].

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2014