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an heir, is supported by the paintings (also by Reynolds) that hang on either side.?7 To the left is the portrait of Henry, Jdh Earl of Pembroke (fig.114), commissioned at about the same time and clearly designed to relate to that of his wife through size, the direction of the sitter's gaze and the three-quarter length format. Indeed, the spatial and inferred relationship between the pictures was rendered explicit when they were engraved together as one image in 1773. 78 To the right hangs a Reynolds portrait of the Countess's brother, the 4th Duke of Marlborough. Together with that of her husband, this serves to inscribe the representation of Lady Pembroke within patrilinear lines; the line into which she was born and whose influence and standing she united with that of the Pembrokes, and the line into which she married and was subsumed.?9 The narrative that is evident from the portrait itself and from its immediate context, becomes even more powerful when it is seen within the larger spatial dynamic of the sequence of rooms in which it is contained (fig. 115). On the other side of the anteroom lies the Double Cube Room, the focus of the house and the location of the family's collection of Van Dycks, centred on the immense portrait of the family of the 4th Earl of Pembroke. An account of the visit of George ill and Charlotte in 1778 by the chaplain, Dr. Thomas Eyre, reveals the order in which these rooms were ideally to be viewed.
portraits that, through devices such as the column and drapes, would recall the images recently seen.
However, this linear narrative masks a number of events and disruptions that become evident from a study of the family's history. In this, the case study of Wilton recalls Karen Stanworth's work on the portraits of George Onslow, 4th Baron Cranley, at Clandon Park. Progressive images depict Onslow as a child, as a young man playing chess, in pendant format with his wife and in a larger painting with both his wife and his son. This succession of portraits presents an "ordered life," "a standard visual history" and a "sense of inevitability" that masks the fact that Edward was nearly charged with making homosexual advances whilst at an exhibition at the Royal Academy. His father had to pay his accuser off and send his son abroad until the scandal had ebbed and he could be reintroduced into London society, respectably married and thus clearly able to continue the family line. As Stanworth observes, the "visual narrative at Clandon Park... was intended to erase any suggestion of deviancy and to confirm the normative passage of time."81 80 T. Lever, The Herberts of Wilton (London, 1967), pp.I77-8 81 K. Stanworth, 'Historical Relations: Representing Collective Identities. Small Group Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century England, British India, and America', (unpub. Ph.D. thesis, Manchester, 1994), chapter 3, especially pp.84-5, 119-122 At Wilton, the disruption masked by the coherent visual narrative relates to the 10th Earl's adulterous affairs. 82 In 1762, Henry met Kitty Hunter, described by Walpole as "a handsome girl with a fine person, but silly and in no degree lovely as his wife," and promptly eloped with her on a packet boat to the Continent. 83 A privateer eventually brought them back, but Kitty's father refused to receive her and they were thus able to abscond a second time. Despite the fact that his mistress gave birth to a son, anagrammatically named Augustus Retnuh Reebkomp, the Earl was eventually reconciled with his wife. Nevertheless, he continued to enjoy adulterous liaisons. Her patience and indulgence eventually wore out, hastened by her husband's suggestion that Augustus should be "Herberted, and unReebkompfed" and his engagement in numerous wrangles with her own son, George. 84 She left Wilton for London and then moved into Pembroke Lodge at Richmond, a dwelling given to her by the doting George ill some years before. This was a bold move as, as Amanda Vickery has argued, "the social prohibitions against informal separation were powerful, and the penalties faced by an estranged wife could be grim."85 This history in itself reveals a more complex story than the straightforward image of a woman subsumed within a family line. However, its most interesting aspect is that a copy of the Reynolds portrait of the Countess with her son was
Herbert (London, 1939), p.162, Lord Pembroke to his son, George, 9 April 1779 83 Horace Walpole's Correspondence, eds. W.S. Lewis. W.H. Smith and G.L. Lam, 48 Vols.
(London and New Haven, 1960), XXII, pp.9-1O, Horace Walpole to Horace Mann, 25 February 1762 84 Henry, Elizabeth and George, p.162, Lord Pembroke to his son, George, 9 April 1779 85 Vickery, The Gentleman's Daughter, p.73 commissioned for Pembroke Lodge. 86 The copy is almost exact apart from the sitter's hair which, instead of being swathed in a scarf, is piled high and adorned with pearls.
An entry in Reynolds's sitters' book in May 1772 may well have been for this replica and the receipted bill at Wilton for £76 is dated 29 May 1773. 87 Its evidencing the Countess's fondness for the picture undermines the commonly promoted view of female representation as constricted by the combination of the male gaze and the usually masculine gender of the artist, indicating its limitations. However, most importantly, the existence of a copy and the location of that copy at the dwelling to which Elizabeth retired when she finally left Lord Pembroke, contradicts the narrative established at Wilton. The fact that Elizabeth, Countess of Pembroke and her Son George, Lord Herbert remained at the family home disclaimed both her absence and her independence of the patriarchal line. The copy, hung in a different space and demonstrative of Lady Pembroke's transgressive act, was dislocated from that narrative and from the accompanying portrait of her husband, becoming more simply a portrait of a mother with her son.
In conclusion, traditional values were resistant to the new sentimentality that came to dominate later eighteenth-century portraiture and prescriptive and fictional literature. Whilst exhortations of the companionate marriage or the sentimental mother may have greatly appealed in an age dominated by the cult of sensibility, This painting was brought back to Wilton by George and now hangs in the Colonnade room with the original.
A photocopy of Reynolds's sitters book is in the Heinz Archive, National Portrait Gallery.
marriage remained central to attaining wealth, power and influence and sons were necessary to secure familial continuity. Portraitists thus frequently emphasised the eldest son, showing him as more sober and responsible than his younger siblings and indicating his educational progress. His instruction is frequently shown as supervised by his father, taking care over the moulding of the successor to both name and estate.
The focus on this relationship is equally evident through absence as fathers are rarely depicted with either daughters or younger children.
Second, as Shearer West has convincingly argued, the demographic crisis amongst the landed classes in the early eighteenth century invested the conversation piece with narratives of continuity, fertility and healthful progeny. However, whilst she has proposed that such messages ebbed in the face of the newly sentimentalised visions of the mother and child, I would argue that such concerns persisted. Statistics may reveal that the worst of the crisis was over by the 1770s, but there was no dwindling in the concern expressed by contemporary writers. Thus, overtones of death and decay persisted in child portraiture, merely becoming less reliant upon the symbolic and more focussed on the emotional and the relative. The elevation of the mother was not a simple move towards affective individualism but, placed in the context of such demographic fears, indicated the importance of her reproductive capacities.
Further evidence for the persistence of more traditional concerns can be found in the contextualisation of portraits within their original environs on the walls of the country house. When located within these bastions of landed power, surrounded by earlier pictures of ancestors, the underlying genealogical significance of these images becomes apparent. In some cases, artists specifically referred to earlier works in their own compositions, creating an impression of linear pictorial and familial descent.
Such devices served to belie actual rifts, whether caused by the passage of the family estate through a female member or by disruptions of the ideal, patriarchal family unit.
This argument provides an interesting parallel to the central thesis of the work of Naomi Tadmor. She has claimed that, whilst the novel did espouse new sentimental ideals, it had to relate to its audience's comprehension of what being the eldest son or the youngest sister meant in terms of real experience. Similarly, whilst portraits, as isolated entities, do appear to belong unequivocally to Stone's companionate family, they came into contact with real issues of lineage when on display in the country house. When brought into context, hung next to pictures of prior generations, displayed in the rooms in which the families lived and into which visitors, friends, relatives and acquaintances were introduced, they had to contain practical messages beyond popular sentimental ideals.
As has been demonstrated, the sentimentalised domestic 'norms' which rose to prominence in the mid eighteenth century developed alongside, whilst partially masking, more 'traditional' concerns of hierarchy, patriarchy and lineage. These new ideals, translated into portraiture, masked the diversities of actual lives with the delimited and clearly defined categories requisite for an apprehending, appropriate and approving audience response. This final chapter will examine the antithetical definition of the same burgeoning ideology of affective domesticity. The companionate marriage was not only evident in portraits of affectionate, strolling couples, but also in visual attacks on members of the bon ton embroiled in highly publicised divorce and criminal conversation trials. The sentimentalised mother was pictorially defined by images of women caressing and attending to their offspring, but also through attacks on elite ladies thought to be neglecting such important duties for the whirl of society life.
A suitable starting point is with the criminal conversation cases of the Ladies Worsley and Grosvenor and the bigamy trial of the Duchess of Kingston. All three women were publicly condemned for disrupting sentimentalised feminine ideals of obedience and chastity, as well as newly elevated standards of affectionate and reciprocal wedlock. Graphic satire was central to the censure of these individuals and, by association, the aristocracy in general. However, it will be shown that some members of the ton countered such attacks, attempting to invert widespread condemnation by asserting their familial, social and public probity through the medium of portraiture. The chapter will finally examine satires of the negligent patrician mother which similarly reveal popularly espoused stereotypes of an immoral and frivolous upper class. The Duchess of Devonshire, in particular, suffered severely from such attacks for her involvement in the Westminster Election of 1784. However, once again, she countered such criticism with a display of domestic virtue on the walls of the Royal Academy.
* * * * * Criminal conversation trials, in which a husband sued his wife's lover for damages, usually as a preliminary in the Doctors' Commons before extracting a full divorce in the House of Lords, were, for financial reasons, largely restricted to the aristocracy.l Many of the pamphleteers who lampooned such cases hailed an elite triumvirate of noble and adulterous wives: Lady Ligonier, Lady Worsley and Lady Grosvenor.2 Lady Ligonier and her illicit liaisons with Alfieri and her husband's head Criminal conversation cases could be brought until the Matrimonial Causes Act in 1857.
Amanda Vickery in The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England (New Haven and London, 1998), p.73 notes that full Divorces by Act of Parliament were very expensive and thus infrequent, numbering only 325 between 1670 and 1857. However, as observed by T.H. Hollingsworth in 'The Demography of the British Peerage', supplement to PopuLation Studies 18,2 (1964), p.24, table 16, the percentage rate of divorces peaked in the mid and later decades of the eighteenth century, the period in which the cases under consideration were brought to trial. For divorce generally, see L.
Stone, Road to Divorce: England 1530-1987 (Oxford, 1990). Unfortunately, Professor Stone does not deal with any of the cases under consideration in this chapter in depth.
The anonymous author of Memoirs of Sir FinicaL Whimsy and his Lady (London, 1782), satirising the Worsley trial, dedicated his work to Lady Grosvenor. An Epistle from L---y W---y to S-r R---d W---y, Bart. (London, 1782), pp.3,4 claimed that Lady Worsley reigned over other "knowing, well-experienc'd Dame(s)," such as " G---r" and "L---r." Finally, The Whore: a Poem, written by a Whore of Quality (London, 1782), p.7 discussed the Ladies Ligonier and Grosvenor along with its main focus of attack, Lady Worsley, condemning all three as: "High fed, high bred, high marry'd too, indeed."