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The daughters of Henry Aston: Lady Legard and Mrs Hedges


Artist: Richard Cosway

The sisters dressed as Flora and Ceres have their arms around one another

The sitters are the daughters of Henry Aston of Aston, Jane, the eldest (d. 1833) married Sir John Legard (c. 1755-1805) 6th Baronet of Garston, Yorkshire, in 1782. They had no children. Jane's sister married Mr. Hedges.

Cosway painted an additional miniature of the sitters which was inset in an enamelled gold snuff box of James Morisset. That version was sold at Christie's, 24 June 1975, lot 131, 8000 guineas. Resold 16 November 1976, lot 142, £18,000

Shelley also painted a copy after the Cosway portrait . Shelley's portrait was mounted in a diamond frame, formerly the property of C. H. T. Hawkins, and was sold Sotheby's, London, 8 June 1987, lot 98, acquired by Dr Anton C. R. Dreesmann (inventory no. F-173), then sold at Christie's 11 April 2002 for £16,450.

The sisters are paying homage to Roman mythology being shown in the guise of Ceres and Flora. Ceres was the Goddess of agriculture and productivity. She was honoured during harvest time and during Roman marriages. The presence of sheaf of wheat in the hair of the sitter, holding the basket suggests that the sitter is celebrating marriage and is likely to be the eldest of the Aston sitters, Jane, who married in 1782. Ceres was often in the company of Flora, Goddess of Flowers. Captivating, spirited and free, Flora inspired the renewal of each season.
More Information
Year                 1779
Literature                 Richard and Maria Cosway A Biography, by Gerald Barnett, 1995, p. 9 and 153 and illustrated Plate V, (h)
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