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1986). p.66 the Gore family. Hannah's sister, Emily, plays the square piano, accompanied by her father on the violoncello, whilst her other sister sits with their mother. However, the most notable feature of this image is the large and intricately described painting that hangs on the wall behind Hannah, counterpoising the vista of the Tuscan countryside on the right (fig.137). It depicts an allegorical scene in the temple of Hymen, god of marriage, an apt conceit considering the commemorative function of this portrait. 97 However, the seemingly straightforward symbolism is complicated by the presence of two figures to the left of the mythical painting. Balancing the main narrative of the wedding before the altar, the figure of Hercules drags a woman along the ground by her hair. She holds a flaming torch aloft as two Cupids, flying above, unmask her to reveal ghastly features. The identification of this allegorical figure has caused some confusion but it would seem most likely that it is intended to represent Calumny. Zoffany was in Italy to paint The Tribune of the Uffizi for Queen Charlotte and presumably had seen Sandro Botticelli's Calumny there (fig.138). Botticelli was the first Renaissance artist to accept the artistic challenge to recreate Apelles' s original, lost and only known through a description in Lucian.
Zoffany's version is thus significantly altered from this definitive model. Calumny has been unmasked to reveal her true nature. Instead of hauling a falsely accused victim to S. Sitwell in Conversation Pieces: A Survey of English Domestic Ponraits and their Painters (London and New York, 1969), p.30 proposed that this records an actual painting which he suggested be judged, she is herself dragged away by Hercules who has presumably thwarted her evil machinations. These deliberate modifications are significant in their intentionality and seem to suggest that malicious accusation and "unkind gossip had been successfully repelled."98 The most probable source of such defamation was the Earl's prior involvement with one Princess Corsi. It seems that his crime, whether in actuality or in rumour only, was fouIfold. The Princess was already married, the Earl had "kept household with her," their "connection" had issue and, finally, he was so besotted as to refuse to return to his dying father in England. 99 Such scandalous events, particularly considering the Earl's prominent position in Florentine society, provoked much gossip.t oo It would seem likely that he perceived his union with the young, virginal Hannah Gore, a lady of eminently respectable family, as putting an end to such scandal. The portrait thus serves to advertise and assert this closure. 101 That such measures were not unique is substantiated by a similar set of events that occurred in England at about the same date. The tete-a-tete engravings in The to be Venetian, and possibly a Pittoni. However, in the light of the following discussion, this would seem unlikely.
98 M. Webster, Johann Zoffany (London, 1977), pp.62-3, quoting p.63; R. Paulson, Emblem and Expression: Meaning in English Art of the Eighteenth Century (London, 1975), p.141; E.G.
d'Oench, The Conversation Piece: Arthur Devis and his Contemporaries (New Haven, 1980), pp.74-5 D. Sutton, 'Paintings at Firle Place: Home of Viscount and Viscountess Gage', Connoisseur 137 (June 1956), p.81; M.L. Boyle, Biographical Catalogue of the Portraits at Pitshanger, the Seat of Earl Cowper, K.G. (London, 1885), p.148; Dr. Doran, Mann and Manners at the Court of Florence 1740-1786 2 Vats. (London, 1876), II. p.l13; The English Chronicle, and Universal Evening Post, 16-18 February 1790; Horace Walpole's Correspondence, VI. p.363, Horace Walpole to Horace Mann, 15 November 1765 O. Millar, Zoffany and his Tribuna (London, 1966), p.10 Not all, however. were convinced at this turning of a new leaf in the Earl's life. Walpole caustically remarked to Mann in a letter dated 18 September 1774 in Horace Walpole's Correspondence (1967). XXIV, p.38. that he considered the union "so odd. that I think it no proof of his being grown reasonable."
Town and Country Magazine for September 1775 targeted Charles Manners, Marquis of Granby and his alleged affair with Miss Smith, the daughter of a Windsor shopkeeper (fig.121). However, the accompanying narrative predicted that;
this will prove only a temporary alliance, as we entertain so high an opinion of his lordship's sentiments and morals, as to believe no such connection will continue, in case that a match, which is much talked of between him and a very beautiful and accomplished young lady, of a very noble family, should
This was, apparently, reliable information for, on I April 1776, The London Magazine published an allegorical print of his wedding to such a preferable lady (fig. 139). This print is striking in its similarity to the allegorical painting featured in the Zoffany portrait. Once again, it depicts a couple standing before the altar of Hymen, attended by the three graces. Hercules is now the groom rather than the champion of innocence and it is left to Minerva, defender of just causes, to remove the figure of a hideous female. The writhing snakes that adorn this character's head would suggest that it is intended to represent Medusa and, indeed, mythological tradition often associated Minerva with the Gorgon. However, once again, the flaming torch of Calumny is held aloft by a rejected and unsightly female figure.
The similarities between these two cases are extremely pronounced. Whilst it is most unlikely that they were in any way directly connected, both demonstrate a recognition of the power of imagery to counteract detraction and both rely on the Town and Country Magazine September 1775, pp.457-9 viewer's ability to identify certain signs and symbols. Indeed, the emblematic figures of Hymen and Cupid and the narrative of the procession to the altar of the god of marriage appear to have been common visual (and literary) currency in this period.
Reynolds certainly depended on familiarity with the figure and attributes of the god of marriage in his painting of the Montgomery sisters. In this, the mythological reference is exploited for positive ends, complementing the compliment inherent in the portrait.
More frequently, however, satirists exploited public familiarity with such conceits for comic and damning effect. In 1775, An Emblem of a Modem Marriage (The British Museum, London), possibly by James Gillray, depicted a young bride being escorted by a skeletal husband to his Palladian mansion, Cupid flying above them but averting his face. A few years later, Catherine Macaulay's marriage to a man thirty-six years her junior was satirised in an image in which Cupid lies either asleep or dead (fig.140). Meanwhile, Hymen attempts to cover his face with a cloak in denial of the aberration taking place before him, his burning torch pointing downwards. Finally, the conventionality of such imagery is confirmed by one of the many satires on the Duchess of Kingston. In Iphigenia's Late Procession from Kingston to Bristol. --by Chudleigh Meadows (fig.141), she is attended by three maids of honour, recalling the three Graces depicted in the Granby engraving and the Cowper portrait. However, this group processes, not towards the temple of Hymen, but towards the court at Westminster. 103 The Duchess of Kingston was a third who exploited visual culture to negate public disapprobation of improper marital and sexual conduct. During the trial of Published in The Morning Post, 16 May 1776. It is worth noting that all these images were produced in the 1770s, a concentration that may contain a significance I have not yet been able to 1776, she garbed herself in extravagant widow's weeds, possibly out of a genuine sense of loss at the Duke's death, probably to try and assuage his disinherited heirs and certainly as a tactic to stimulate sympathy and to suggest a heartfelt grief at the passing of her husband. Prints published in May that year depicted her entirely garbed in black with only her face protruding from the enveloping guise (figs. 142 and 143).
Most were dubious about the sincerity of this display and many commented scathingly on her appearance. Hannah More noted the Duchess's "deep mourning" and declared;
"there was nothing white but her face, and had it not been for that, she would have
looked like a bale of bombazeen."I04 Horace Walpole was similarly unimpressed:
"What think you of that pompous piece of effrontery and imposture, the Duchess of Kingston? Is there common sense in her ostentation and grief, and train of black crepe and band of music?"IOS The Duchess herself, however, clearly believed that her weeds and displays of mourning would convince the world at large of her genuine sentiments towards the Duke. As a result, she commissioned a portrait designed to emphasise her sense of profound bereavement. Shortly after Kingston's death, William Whitehead
wrote to Lord Nuneham:
The Duchess of Kingston is determined Bath shall not leave off talking of her; she is gone abroad, but has just sent hither to Hoare the painter to draw a full-length picture of her in weeds, with her dear Duke standing by her. There discover. However. the frequency of the symbolism of Cupid and Hymen in this period would have certainly facilitated recognition.
Memoirs of the life of Mrs Hannah More, pp.39-41. quoting pp.40-1, Hannah More to a member of her family. 1776 Horace Walpole's Correspondence, XXIII, p.556, Horace Walpole to Horace Mann, 23 February 1774 is already at Hoare's a full-length picture of her Grace in coronation-robes, with the Duke, in miniature, in one corner of it. 106 Although I have not succeeded in tracing this image, it would appear that William Hoare did indeed execute such a portrait. A year after Whitehead's letter, Elizabeth
Noel wrote of a visit to the houses of Gainsborough and Hoare in Bath:
I saw nothing very capital at the two Painters, excepting a portrait of the Dss of Kingston in her weeds, looking at a picture of the Duke, her robes carelessly behind her on a Chair, and an Hour glass and Scull on the Table, all her own device - she wd have had some bones at her feet, but Hoare would not comply with that."107 This letter reveals the extent of the Duchess's determination to convey her grief publicly (somewhat over-using vanitas motifs). A useful comparison may be drawn with Pompeo Batoni's earlier portrait of Wills Hill, Earl of Hillsborough and later 1st Marquess of Downshire of 1766 (Private Collection). Like the Duchess, he is shown in contemplation of a portrait of a deceased spouse. The oval picture of his wife is supported by the winged figure of Hymen, extinguishing his torch to signify the end to their union. Hoare's portrait of the Duchess was probably alike in design and certainly similarly concerned with projecting loyalty and sorrow.
The Harcourt Papers, ed. E.W. Harcourt, 14 Vols. (Oxford, 1880-1905), VII. pp.303-4.
William Whitehead to Lord Nuneham, 6 December 1773 J. Lindsay, Thomas Gainsborough: His Life and Art (London, Toronto, Sydney, New York, 1982), pp.115-6. I am grateful to Michael Rosenthal for bringing this to my attention.
Moreover, it seems that a year after commissioning Hoare to paint her portrait, the Duchess approached Joseph Nollekens with the idea of erecting a grandiose monument to her late husband in St. Pauls Cathedral. According to a caustic letter written by Mrs Theresa Parker, the widow visualised a prominent role for herself in
the design of the tomb:
It was to represent the Duke rising from a sarcophagus and the figure of a Woman handing him out for which the Dutchess was to sit and was to express the Virgin Mary. Above was to be supposed God the Father receiving him, pointing to a vacant seat left for him. Upon Sir Joshua and others explaining to Nollikins the impropriety of the latter part in particular he spoke to the Dutchess and with great difficulty prevail' d upon her to give that up, but she still insisted upon being the Virgin Mary.lOS Thus, she clearly intended to extend her programme of self-justification beyond portraiture to the medium of funerary sculpture, once again conflicting with the artist in her demands. Such a tomb would have provided the most highly public statement of her loss possible, as well as signifying her considerable wealth. However, as is obvious from the affronted reactions of Mrs Parker and Sir Joshua Reynolds, together with those of Miss Noel and William Hoare, the Duchess both failed to attune her attempts to engender sympathy to the public mood, breaching decorum rather than arousing pity, and implied catholic tendencies. Whilst women were depicted with their dead husbands, they did not usually resort to skulls and bones. Equally, whilst wives
did quite frequently appear on the tombs of their deceased spouses, it was usually in the role of mourner, inviting sympathy and compassion, rather than as the mother of Christ. 109 As well as publicising her fulfilment of the duties of a virtuous widow through the commissioning of artworks, the Duchess exploited the language of the cult of womanhood in the course of her trial. Thus, she attempted to locate herself within the very ideals that she was supposed to have transgressed. The House was promised that "my Words will flow freely from my Heart, adorned simply with Innocence and Truth.
My Lords, I have suffered unheard of Persecutions; my Honour and Fame have been severely attacked." She repeated the message that she had tried to enlist Hoare and Nollekens to enforce, referring to "the Loss I sustain in my most kind Companion and affectionate Husband." 11 0 These claims to emotionality, to sensibility, to a concern with reputation (and implied chastity) and to the loss of an idyllic companionate marriage evoked the rhetoric of the conduct book and the novel. In this way, she attempted to counter the image an unfeeling, calculating, immoral and ambitious harlot that had been created by the press.