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Before we leave Chatsworth…

July 25, 2011

It’s almost… alarming… to turn a corner in Chatsworth and come upon this. “This” being a portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (yes, the one immortalised by Keira Knightley in The Duchess). The painting is by Maria Hadfield Cosway, and was done in 1781-82. Georgiana towers above you, larger than life size, and is depicted here as Cynthia from Edmund Spenser’s epic poem ‘The Faerie Queene‘. (Well, naturally- I mean, what else? Why pose with, say, a smile and a kitten on your lap, when you could be depicted as a moon goddess* in full swoop?).

Here’s a slightly more traditional portrait of Georgiana, by Joshua Reynolds, which is teeny tiny here because I’m afraid I took such a blurry photo:

And this one… Well. I have to say I double took at this one by Gainsborough…

…because doesn’t it have a certain… similarity…to this one of Queen Marie Antoinette, painted by Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun?:

Or to this one, also of Marie Antoinette, also by Vigee-Lebrun….

(“Elisabeth, I don’t feel you really captured the soul… the very essence… of the rose the first time round. I think we should give it another try, don’t you?”

“Yes, your majesty.”)

Apparently Marie Antoinette and Georgiana were great pals, but I still wonder if there were raised eyebrows on either side over the, er, striking sameness of their portraits.

Here’s a different, later, Duchess of Devonshire, Lady Evelyn Cavendish, this time by Sargent:

And a couple of other pics which I forgot to note, so I’m merely going to toss them in here with an approving nod and a “pretty!”

Ooh. Nice hat.

Cynthia was another name for the Roman goddess Diana- but of course you knew that.

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