"The Right Honble Lady Louisa Manners, Sister to the Earl of Dysart" (Portrait of Louisa Manners, Countess of Dysart (1745-1840)
Mezzotint by Valentine Green, A.R.A. (1739-1813) after Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A. (1723-1792)
Published, 1779 by Valentine Green
67.5 cm x 43 cm (sheet)
Lettered with title "The Right Honble Lady Louisa Manners, Sister to the Earl of Dysart" and artists' and publication details "Painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds", "Engraved by V. Green Mezzotinto Engraver to his Majesty & to the Elector Palatine" and "Published Decr. 24th 1779, by V. Green, No. 29 Newman Street, Oxford Street."
The sitter Lady Louisa Manners (née Tollemache (daughter of Lionel Tollemache, 4th Earl of Dysart)) was educated, between 1755 and 1757, at 'Mrs Holt's School for Girls' in South Audley Street, Mayfair, which was considered the best ladies’ school in London at that time. She obviously had a reputation for spirited behaviour, during her time at the school the celebrated Mrs Delany visited her and wrote of the good effects that education was having:- 'I was, last Wednesday, at Lady Cowper's concert. Lady Louisa Tollemache was there, and is extremely improved in her behaviour, was mighty quiet and composed...'.
However, when she was twenty, Louisa eloped to Scotland with John Manners, a grandson of the Duke of Rutland. His father, Lord William Manners, and mother, Miss Corbetta Smyth (daughter a local apothecary near Belvoir Castle), had never married but lived as husband and wife. John and Louisa (who he referred to as'Lou Lou') had been sweethearts for some time but her family seem to have disapproved of the relationship. Nevertheless, John was a frequent visitor to Ham House where she would unlock a garden gate and he would climb over the railings so they could meet illicitly. One evening Manners persuaded Louisa to flee three-hundred miles north with him so that they could be married at Gretna Green. As they left, he threw her key to the gate back over the garden wall to prevent her return. At her family's request the marriage was performed again at St. James's, Piccadilly.
Louisa and John had ten children, all of whom assumed the Tollemache name. She worshipped her pet dogs who terrorised her guests. On one occasion a dog bit a visitor and on hearing of the incident Lady Louisa only remarked, 'Poor dog, I hope this won't make him sick'.
She outlived her five brothers, none of whom left any children, and aged seventy-six in 1821 succeeded to the titles as 'Seventh Countess of Dysart'. She inherited Ham House and a life-interest in Helmingham Hall in Suffolk. She lived to be ninety-five and was buried at Helmingham.
The original portrait by Reynolds, from which this mezzotint was made, is now in the Iveagh Bequest at Kenwood. A copy made by John Constable is at Ham House. A later stipple engraving was made by Charles Knight and published in 1800.
Not in NPG. See BM 1832,1211.14: Yale B1970.3.195 etc
Good full margins.
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