L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Honourable Miss Monckton, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1777-1778

From the Tate website's "summary" on this painting:

"The Honourable Mary Monckton (1746-1840) was the youngest child and only surviving daughter of John Monckton, first Viscount Galway, and his second wife Jane. Until her marriage in 1786 to Edmund Boyle, 8th Earl of Corke, Mary lived with her widowed mother in Charles Street, Berkeley Square, London. Well read and versed in the arts, she was regarded as among the most engaging of the capital's 'blue-stockings' (society women renowned for their literary prowess and social skills). Her parties were celebrated for their informal atmosphere, regular guests including the author Samuel Johnson, the Whig politician Edmund Burke, and the great tragic actress Sarah Siddons. The novelist Fanny Burney described Mary Monckton in 1782 as 'between thirty and forty, very short, very fat, but handsome, splendidly and fantastically dressed, rouged not unbecomingly, yet evidently and palpably desirous of gaining notice and admiration. She has an easy levity in her air, manner, voice, and discourse'...

"... Mary Monckton was aged twenty-nine and still single at the time Reynolds painted this portrait. At that time it presumably hung in her mother's house in Charles Street, and must have been a prominent decorative feature at Miss Monckton's salons. Given the demeanour and pose of the Mary Monckton in Reynolds's portrait, it is fascinating to learn that at her parties she made a point of receiving her guests seated. Thus the portrait acted both as a substitute for her living presence when she herself was absent and, when she was there, a pictorial counterpart to this diminutive woman's larger-than-life personality."

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