Friday, June 27, 2008

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George Romney, Lady Altamont, 1788

I wish I could find some information about this lady because I find her portrait just hypnotizing. She has such a unique look to her. She reminds me of a British Nerfertiti actually. Romney's smoky brush strokes mixing with the blue accents of her skin cause a calming, mysterious atmosphere. What I can't take my eyes away from is Lady Altamont's fabulous hair and dress! I only wish this was a full-length so we could see her whole gown.

3 comments:

  1. Hi - According to Ward and Roberts ("Romney, A Biographical and Critical Essay...," 1904, vol II, p. 3):

    Lady Louisa Catherine Howe, youngest daughter and co-heir of Richard, Earl of Howe ; married John Denis, Earl of Altamount (Marquess of Sligo in 1800) on May 21, 1787, and, secondly, on April 2, 1813, William, Lord Stowell ; died in Sept 1817.

    Address given as George Street, Hanover Square [from Romney's notebooks]. [For this painting, presumably] Sat to Romney in 1788, July 24, 28, 30, Aug 1, 2, 3. Paid for by Lord Altamount, Aug 3, 1788 ; [painting] Sent to Bath on Aug 15 of the same year.

    I am researching a portrait that may be a copy of this one (or the sketch for it)....

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  2. Joe, thank you so very much for sharing this information! How did you come about researching the portrait?

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  3. This painting might be a picture of the copy in Westport House co Mayo by Frank Brooks. Westport House was the main residence, although she also has a house in London for the season. She also live for a short time at the duchess palace. Her home is now open to the public (opening time & additional information: www.westporthouse.ie). Still in the in the same family many of her belongings are on show including her accounts book. My favourite page in the book page where she divided her annual stipend of 1000 pounds into 365 and writes "A lady's daily allowance is...". She certainly was a well known party goer according to the many many mentions of her in the London Times; however she also found time to set up several charities around Westport. Getting back to the painting, it was do during her teens I would say. There are 2 more portraits of her in the house, one of her in her late 30s and the other was done in her 60s I would estimate. The latter depicts her in full mourning regalia looking terrible sombre. Personally, I think that her life became more difficult after the death of her husband in 1809, her only child, Howe Peter, inherited and he proved to be a bit a dandy and an embarrassment to the family, causing more than one scandal, although his redeeming act outlawed slavery in Jamaica where he was governor.
    Obviously, i have done some research on the 1st Marchioness of Sligo, I know much more information but dont have the time at the moment to write a proper account of her life. If you want to know more, or something in particular please feel free to ask.

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