Lady Mary in Pictures

Posted by on Feb 12, 2014

A Woman called Lady Mary Wortley Montaguby Sir Godfrey Kneller, c. 1715-20
Yale Center for British Art

Before her bout with smallpox, Lady Mary was a famously beautiful woman. She was painted many times, both before and after: painters of her day were accustomed to painting away smallpox scars.

My favorite portrait of her, of course, is the 1726 painting by Jonathan Richardson that appears in The Speckled Monster.
Other wonderful images

Lady Mary by Charles Jervas, before 1715
Chawton House Library, Chawton, Hampshire, UK

Lady Mary with her son in Constantinople, attributed to Jean Baptiste Vanmour, c. 1717
National Portrait Gallery, London

Lady Mary by Charles Jervas, c. 1718-20
National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

Lady Mary in Turkish Dress by Jean-Etienne Liotard, c. 1756
Palace on the Water (Royal Baths Museum), Warsaw

The V&A in London has a miniature of an unknown woman in Turkish dress painted by Gervase Spencer in 1755 that was once thought to be a portrait of Lady Mary, but the museum no longer credits the identification. Still, it’s a beautiful image.

For many years, it was common to identify every painting of a lovely dark haired woman in Turkish dress as “Lady Mary” and be done with it. For example, see this marvelous bit of sleuthing that revealed one “Lady Mary” as a Greek woman named Laura Tarsi.



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