Georgiana Spencer Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806) was famous for her intelligence, charisma, and beauty. Born Lady Georgiana Spencer, she married William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire at the age of 17. Henrietta Frances Spencer Ponsonby, Countess of Bessborough (1761-1821) was known as Harriet. She married Frederick Ponsonby, Lord Duncannon, a cousin of Georgiana’s husband, at age 19. Both women had turbulent marriages marked by extramarital affairs and children born out of wedlock. The sisters remained close and attended political events and social gatherings together until Georgiana’s death.
Angelica Kauffmann was a child prodigy who was trained by her father, also a painter. From the age of 16 she traveled through Austria and Italy, assisting him with religious commissions as well as painting portrait commissions of her own. After arriving in London in 1766, she became known for her historical paintings, the most prestigious genre during the 18th century. Kauffman achieved extraordinary recognition for a female artist of her day, and was one of only two female founding members of the British Royal Academy. She spent the latter part of her life in Italy.
William Dickinson was a print seller and engraver in London, trading alone in business, mainly as a sole proprietor from 1773 to 1802. He was associated with Thomas Watson from 1776, and they traded as Watson and Dickinson from 1778 until Watson’s death in 1781. In the early 19th century he moved to Paris, although he still supplied the London market from there. He died in Paris in 1823. Dickinson exhibited at the Society of Artists from 1768 to 1776. One of the finest mezzotint engravers of his time, he engraved portraits after Sir Joshua Reynolds and others.
Full publication information: Painted by Angelica Kauffman [sic]. Engraved by W. Dickinson. London, Published Nov’r 20th, 1782 by W. Dickinson Engraver & Printseller No. 138 New Bond Street.
Condition: Generally very good, recently professionally cleaned and deacidified, with only light remaining toning, wear, handling.
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