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Regency portrait miniature of Mary Anne Clarke (née Thompson) (1776-1852), Mistress of the Duke of York, painted in watercolour on ivory


Artist: Adam Buck

Mary Anne Clarke, whose story is told in that partly fictional biography, Mary Anne, written by her great-great grand daughter Daphne du Maurier, was depicted by Buck as a Beauty and star of her day on several occasions (at least two full length pencil and watercolour on cards and another miniature dated 1803 are known to exist)

She entertained sumptuously, kept ten horses and had twenty servants, she ate off plates that had belonged to the Duc de Berri and drank from glasses costing two guineas each. She subsidised her extravagant style of living by accepting money in return for using her influence with the Duke of York (who at the time was Commander in Chief of the British Army) to obtain commissions and appointments.

In 1806 Mary separated from her patron with the promise of an annuity but this was not paid regularly and her debts were considerable. Resentment and the offer of money in return for her co-operation encouraged her to give evidence against her former lover. The Duke was forced to resign as Commander in Chief, only to be reinstated two years later. Mary Anne, who had put up a spirited and frank defence of her role in the affair,became a public heroine
More Information
Year                 1805
Medium                 watercolour on ivory,
Signed                 Signed on the obverse and dated 1805, in gilt-metal frame
Provenance                 Christie's, London, 30 Aril, 1935, lot 155 (5 gns to Argenti)
Condition                 Good
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