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A portrait miniature of Mrs Fitzherbert (1756-1837)


Artist: Richard Cosway

9.5 cm (3 3/4")
Wearing a yellow dress with frilled neckline seated before a red curtain
gold frame, the reverse engraved with the sitter's name

This portrait if based on the oil painting by Thomas Gainsborough, executed in 1784, and now at the Fine Art Museum in San Francisco in the Mildred Anna Williams Collection.
In 1784 Cosway moved into Schomberg House, Pall Mall and gained Gainsborough as a neighbour. It is probable that Cosway would have seen the portrait whilst it was in Gainsborough's studio. Cosway may have taken this portrait in miniature with the hopes of selling it to his friend the Prince of Wales. However, his plan fell flat when Mrs. Fitzherbert saw the Gainsborough portrait and detested it on the grounds that it made her nose too big, therefore ruling out any chance of the Prince wanting a copy in miniature.

Mary Anne Smythe married Thomas Fitzherbert as her second husband - he only lived for 3 years after their marriage. A young and beautiful woman with a jointure of £2000 a year, she moved to houses in Richmond and London. Around 1784 she met George, Prince of Wales, who fell in love with her and secretly married in 1785..
9.5 cm (3 3/4")
More Information
Year                 Circa1790
Literature                 Secret Passions to Noble Fashions, no. 31
Exhibition                 Holburn Museum, 1999
Phillips Auctioneers, Exhibition, 1999
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 2000-2003
Condition                 Good
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