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  • For Rowlandson, 1784 was an annus mirabilis. That year the portraits he exhibited at the Royal Academy gave way to the comic drawings that dominated the rest of his career. He also emerged as a political caricaturist during the fraught campaign over the Westminster Election. At the center of the campaign were Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806), and her sister, Harriet, Lady Duncannon (1761-1821). Together they secured the election of Charles James Fox by persuading dithering voters to support their candidate - to the consternation of George III. "Neither entreaties nor promises were spared. In some instances even personal caresses were said to have been permitted, in order to prevail on the surly or inflexible" (Wraxall, 1836, vol. 1, p. 11). Here Rowlandson returns to portraiture six years after the notorious election to depict the two sisters relaxing together on a sofa with a musical score and a serenading guitarist. The matching white dresses, flowing lines, and gentle incline of heads suggest a harmonious relationship, underscored by the metaphor of musical harmony. Georgiana, on the left, was perhaps the most admired and reviled woman of her age, by turns Whig political hostess and fashion icon, novelist, and gambler. The latter vice she passed on to Harriet, who "however inferior to the duchess in elegance of mind and in personal beauty, equalled her in sisterly love" (Wraxall, 1836, vol. 1, p.8). Rowlandson's drawing reflects the fact that, in 1790, the only consolation the sisters had was in each other's company: that year, Georgiana moved to France to escape recriminations over her role in the Regency Crisis, and Harriet's husband had discovered her liaison with the playwright and politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Ironically, the first recorded owner of this drawing was George, 5th Duke of Gordon, son of the Tory hostess Jane, Duchess of Gordon, Georgiana's chief political rival.
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  • For Rowlandson, 1784 was an annus mirabilis. That year the portraits he exhibited at the Royal Academy gave way to the comic drawings that dominated the rest of his career. He also emerged as a political caricaturist during the fraught campaign over the Westminster Election. At the center of the campaign were Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (1757.-.1806), and her sister, Harriet, Lady Duncannon (1761.-.1821). Together they secured the election of Charles James Fox by persuading dithering voters to support their candidate.-.to the consternation of George III. "Neither entreaties nor promises were spared. In some instances even personal caresses were said to have been permitted, in order to prevail on the surly or inflexible" (Wraxall, 1836, vol. 1, p. 11). Here Rowlandson returns to portraiture six years after the notorious election to depict the two sisters relaxing together on a sofa with a musical score and a serenading guitarist. The matching white dresses, flowing lines, and gentle incline of heads suggest a harmonious relationship, underscored by the metaphor of musical harmony. Georgiana, on the left, was perhaps the most admired and reviled woman of her age, by turns Whig political hostess and fashion icon, novelist, and gambler. The latter vice she passed on to Harriet, who "however inferior to the duchess in elegance of mind and in personal beauty, equalled her in sisterly love" (Wraxall, 1836, vol. 1, p.8). Rowlandson's drawing reflects the fact that, in 1790, the only consolation the sisters had was in each other's company: that year, Georgiana moved to France to escape recriminations over her role in the Regency Crisis, and Harriet's husband had discovered her liaison with the playwright and politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Ironically, the first recorded owner of this drawing was George, 5th Duke of Gordon, son of the Tory hostess Jane, Duchess of Gordon, Georgiana's chief political rival.
  • For Rowlandson, 1784 was an annus mirabilis. That year the portraits he exhibited at the Royal Academy gave way to the comic drawings that dominated the rest of his career. He also emerged as a political caricaturist during the fraught campaign over the Westminster Election. At the center of the campaign were Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (1757–1806), and her sister, Harriet, Lady Duncannon (1761–1821). Together they secured the election of Charles James Fox by persuading dithering voters to support their candidate—to the consternation of George III. “Neither entreaties nor promises were spared. In some instances even personal caresses were said to have been permitted, in order to prevail on the surly or inflexible” (Wraxall, 1836, vol. 1, p. 11). Here Rowlandson returns to portraiture six years after the notorious election to depict the two sisters relaxing together on a sofa with a musical score and a serenading guitarist. The matching white dresses, flowing lines, and gentle incline of heads suggest a harmonious relationship, underscored by the metaphor of musical harmony. Georgiana, on the left, was perhaps the most admired and reviled woman of her age, by turns Whig political hostess and fashion icon, novelist, and gambler. The latter vice she passed on to Harriet, who “however inferior to the duchess in elegance of mind and in personal beauty, equalled her in sisterly love” (Wraxall, 1836, vol. 1, p.8). Rowlandson’s drawing reflects the fact that, in 1790, the only consolation the sisters had was in each other's company: that year, Georgiana moved to France to escape recriminations over her role in the Regency Crisis, and Harriet's husband had discovered her liaison with the playwright and politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Ironically, the first recorded owner of this drawing was George, 5th Duke of Gordon, son of the Tory hostess Jane, Duchess of Gordon, Georgiana’s chief political rival.
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  • Alternate title :: Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, Her Sister Harriet, Viscountess Duncannon (Later the Countess of Bessborough) and a Musician
  • Bibliograpic reference ::
  • Bibliograpic reference :: British Art at Yale, Apollo, v.105, no. 182, April 1977, pp. 282-3, fig. 18, N5220 M552 A7 1977 OVERSIZE (YCBA) , Published as April 1977 issue of Apollo; all of the articles may also be found in bound Apollo Volume [N1 A54 105:2 +]
  • Bibliograpic reference :: John Baskett, Paul Mellon's legacy, a passion for British art : masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 273, no. 65, pl. 65, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)
  • Bibliograpic reference :: Sir Nathaniel William Wraxall, Posthumous memoirs of his own time, Richard Bentley, London, 1836, p. 11 (v.1), , By55 51 (SML)
  • Bibliograpic reference :: The Cunning Eye of Thomas Rowlandson, Apollo, vol.105,no. 182, April 1977, pp. 282-3, fig. 18, N1 A54 05:2 + (YCBA) , Another copy of this article may be found in a separately bound and catalogued copy of this issue located on the Mellon Shelf [call number : N5220 M552 A7 1977 + (YCBA)]
  • Dimension height :: 50.0cm
  • Dimension height :: 58.1cm
  • Dimension width :: 42.5cm
  • Dimension width :: 50.8cm
  • Exhibition :: An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy
  • Exhibition :: English Portrait Drawings & Miniatures
  • Exhibition :: Paul Mellon's Legacy : A Passion for British Art
  • Exhibition :: Rowlandson Drawings from the Paul Mellon Collection
  • Exhibition :: The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century
  • Exhibition :: The Pursuit of Happiness - A View of Life in Georgian England
  • Exhibition :: Thomas Rowlandson (Art Services Int'l)
  • Exhibition :: Thomas Rowlandson from the Paul Mellon Collection
  • Located in :: New Haven
  • Located in :: Not on view
  • Located in :: YCBA, 222, C 3, R- 6
  • Located in :: Yale Center for British Art
  • Object type :: drawing
  • Object type :: watercolor
  • Subject Concept :: aristocracy
  • Subject Concept :: couch
  • Subject Concept :: dresses, evening
  • Subject Concept :: guitar
  • Subject Concept :: man
  • Subject Concept :: music
  • Subject Concept :: portrait
  • Subject Concept :: sisters
  • Subject Concept :: sitting
  • Subject Concept :: women
  • Subject Object :: sheet music
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  • ...
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  • Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
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?:label
  • The Duchess of Devonshire and the Countess of Bessborough
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