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may be most efficaciously employed in the cause of virtue and decorum, by holding up to public notice, many offenders against both, who are not amenable to any other tribunal, and who, though they contemptuously defy all serious reproof, tremble at the thoughts of seeing their vices or follies attacked by the keen shafts of ridicule. 2o Pictorial descriptions of highly personal and usually sexual incidents could thus be seen to function as both deterrent and punishment. The alarm that they could (or, rather, that the satirists hoped that they could) create amongst the vitiated elite, is expressed in Maria Edgeworth's Belinda. Lady Delacour is concerned that her retreat from the world of dissipated fashion will be perceived as other than a conscious moral choice. She fears "witticism, epigrams, caricatures without end" and anticipates, "we should have 'Lord and Lady D--, or The Domestic Tete-a-Tete, or The Reformed Amazon,' stuck up in a print-shop window!"21 Imagery was also called on to support these authors' claims that they sought simply to reveal the 'truth,' to relay facts that had either been falsified or only partially conveyed by their competitors. One account of the lives of Lord and Lady Ligonier strongly drew on such rhetoric. It asserted that, whilst many similar publications were "repugnant to truth, decency, and sound morality," its own sources were "genuine and Rules for Drawing Caricaturas; with an Essay on Comic Painting (London. 1788). p.4.
example, the viewer is informed that '4' designates the Lord High Steward's chair whilst '5' locates the "Lord High Steward removed from his chair, nearer the bar for conveniency of hearing." The textual accompaniment also informs the viewer of particulars of colour and material not easily conveyed through a graphic medium, noting, "all the seats are covered, and scaffolding hung with red baize."24 Such prints conveyed a sense of veracity, suggesting personal acquaintance with events that were, for most, both spatially and socially distant.
Despite these high-flown moral assertions, the real motives behind both literary and visual satire were probably far removed from the realm of social conscience. Rather, it was the entertaining and scandalous nature of the behaviour of these aristocrats that stimulated the avaricious public demand for informative
numerous satires of Lady Worsley taking her infamous bath, she ironically has her back turned to the official voyeur, Mr Bissett, in order to display her physical attractions to the viewer (figs. 117, 118 and 122). The highly revealing costume worn by Elizabeth Chudleigh to the Venetian Ambassadors ball in 1749, attending in the character of Iphigenia, was also remarkably popular with graphic artistS. 27 Occasionally, contemporaries did question the superficial moralising of the The Trial of Robert Feilding Esq., opening illustration 25 McGreery, 'Keeping up with the Bon Ton', p.223 P. Wagner, 'The Pornographer in the Court-room: Trial Reports about Cases of Sexual Crimes and Delinquencies as a Genre of Eighteenth-Century Erotica', in P. Bouce, ed., Sexuality in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Manchester, 1982), p.l24 27 See, for example, Anon., Miss CHUDLEIGH, in the CHARACTER of IPHIGENIA. at the Venetian Ambassador's Masquerade (c.1749) and F. Chesham, DUCHESS of KINGSTON as she appeared at the Venetian Ambassador's Ball in Somerset House (c. 1749), both in the National Portrait Gallery's engravings collection. An inscription on the latter claims, very dubiously, that the print is taken from a portrait by Thomas Gainsborough.
pamphleteers. A character in Reflections on Celibacy and Marriage, published in 1771, argued that such accounts of licentious behaviour were merely entertaining.
Indeed, rather than deterring their readers from similarly sinful activities, they were more likely to provide encouragement by acquainting them with the particulars of vice. 28 Public curiosity concerning the physical appearance of these notorious celebrities enhanced the popularity of such images. Satirists often drew on extant portraits of the protagonists in order to fulfil this demand. For example, in 1775, The Matrimonial Magazine published a satire on the Duchess of Kingston by W. Nicolls (fig.119). Entitled The Married Maid of Honour, or, The Widow's Wife and her two Husbands, it depicts Elizabeth Chudleigh in a head and shoulders oval, surmounting similar portraits of her two husbands in profile. 29 This representation of the Duchess was probably derived from an early portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds, executed in the mid 1740s (fig.120). The pictures share the same tilt of the head, the same sideways glance, the same features, a similar costume and an identical hairstyle. 3o Thus, imagery from the more elevated genre of portraiture has been de-contextualised and F. Douglas, Reflections on Celibacy and Marriage; in Four Letters to a Friend; In which the ADVANTAGES and DISADVANTAGES of the two STATES are compared (London, 1771), p.60 Printed to accompany 'Memoirs of the Married Maid of Honour; or. The Widow'd Wife' in The Matrimonial Magazine; or, Monthly Anecdotes of love and Marriage for the Court, the City and the Country January 1775, pp.9-l3 A. Graves and W.V. Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA 4 Vols.
(London, 1899), I. pp.174-5 record this painting and date it to c.l747. I have only been able to trace the image in its mezzotinted form, a reproduction of which is in the Chudleigh file in the Heinz Archive at the National Portrait Gallery. London. It may be the portrait referred to by James Northcote in a letter to his brother. 18 April 1776. quoted in The Whitley Papers. Vol.IX. f.1098: "Sir Joshua has a head of her done by him more than thirty years since. at Saltram. before he went to Italy." McGreery in 'Keeping up with the Bon Ton', pp.21O, 213 has noted a similar use of portraits and miniatures by the creators of the Tete-a-Tetes.
redefined to suit the narrative wishes of the satirist. The print not only infers the duality of the Duchess's married life through the arrangement of its components, but also suggests the perversity of her activities through the perversion of several pictorial 'types.' The positioning of Captain Hervey and the Duke of Kingston in horizontally aligned, oval portraits, reproduced alongside a chronicle of their lives, instantly recalls the Tete-a-Tete engravings that were a popular feature of The Town and Country Magazine. These typically consisted of twin pictures of a (normally famous) man and a (less often famous) woman, preceding an account of the (usually illicit) affair between them (fig.121). By replacing the lovers with the two husbands of one woman, the familiar model is humorously ruptured and the narrative of a romantic union destroyed. The Married Maid of Honour similarly echoes and overthrows the format of the pendant tradition. The mutually complementary and harmonious concordia discors and division of marital relations into masculine and feminine spheres are denied in the eradication of the dualised format. Similarly, the supposed equality of the companionate marriage, expressed in the presentation of spouses in equally prominent pictorial and spatial terms, is here nullified by the Duchess's dominant position.
Thus, the likeness as painted by Reynolds has become subservient to the chronicle and the positive portrait, intended to flatter and enhance, is inverted and incorporated into the negative genre of printed satire, designed to criticise and lampoon. However, it can be argued that such portraits and satires functioned in similar ways, albeit to different ends. First, a central feature of the workings of both genres is what Richard Brilliant has referred to as the act of 'naming'. He emphasises that 'likeness' only comes into play once the subject has been identified, either through the provision of necessary information, or through the process of recognition.
This enables the viewer to compare subject and representation. 31 In portraits, such as that by Reynolds, the connection established by such identification enables the generic qualities of beauty, modesty and youth to be associated with the individual sitter and the flattering agenda of the genre to be fulfilled. In satires, such as that in The Matrimonial Magazine, naming enables the details of the image to be understood through recollection of the associated narrative (in this case, the bigamy trial). Indeed, the importance of this process helps to explain the eighteenth-century penchant for referring to subjects as 'L--y W --y' or 'L--y G-'. Far from obscuring identification, the quantity and popUlarity of texts and images relating to such characters' activities filled in the gaps as effectively as the printer, simultaneously preventing any repercussions in terms of prosecution for libel. Indeed, the application of externally gathered knowledge to the individual work under scrutiny must have enhanced its attractiveness as a consumer object, facilitating a sensation of knowledge, recognition and fulfilment of curiosity.3 2 Thus, 'naming' functioned in both negative and positive terms. As Jonathan
Richardson had argued early in the century:
Upon the sight of a portrait, the character, and master-strokes of the history of the person it represents are apt to flow in upon the mind, and to be the subject of conversation: so that to sit for one's picture, is to have an abstract 31 R. Brilliant, Portraiture (London, 1991), p.30 32 McGreery, 'Keeping up with the Bon Ton', p.214 of one's life written, and published, and ourselves thus consigned over to honour or infamy.33 The idea of the portrait as more than a record of an individual's features, as also conveying character and history, was central to Richardson's thought and was subsequently adopted and developed by Reynolds. In his Discourses, the President of the Royal Academy denigrated detailed physical description and recommended that his students reduce sitters to "classes and general descriptions." Whilst this argument may have read as an apologia for his own problems in capturing an accurate likeness, it did suggest that portraiture was more elevated than permitted by traditional academic precept, and let him claim; "there are therefore large ideas to be found even in this contracted subject."34 However, Reynolds's theoretical attempts to distil character were ironically parallel to the satirical process. The largely anonymous artists of the prints under discussion similarly reduced individuals to generalised types, categorising them as aristocratic whores or as profligate and amoral noblemen.