Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Albany

The following text is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977 (now out of print). For the most up to date research on the Collection, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text. This can be accessed by following the link with each portrait’s title.

In consulting the following, please note that apart from the reformatting which allows the printed catalogue to be made available on-line the text is as published in 1977. Footnotes in the original edition are given within square brackets.

ContentsForewordIntroductionCatalogue scopeAbbreviations> Arrangement of entries>


Louisa, Countess of Albany (1752-1824)
Louisa Maria von Stolberg, daughter of Gustavus Adolphus of Stolberg-Gedern; born, 1752; [1] married, 1772, Prince Charles, the 'Young Pretender', usually known after 1766 as the Earl of Albany, a title she also adopted after leaving him for the poet Alfieri c.1780; received at court in London, 1793; lived in Florence with the French artist Fabre; her possessions, save for Alfieri's manuscripts bequeathed to his native Florence, passed to the Musée Fabre in Montpelier.

377 Called the Countess of Albany, attributed to Hugh Douglas Hamilton, c.1785
Oil on canvas, 9 1/2 x 8 1/8 in. (242 x 216 mm), pale grey eyes, pale pink complexion, own grey hair dressed sideways with ringlet hanging to each shoulder; small white cap, pale blue dress with lace fichu; grey background of flattened oval shape on a rectangular canvas primed with ochre.

Inscribed on a label in the same hand as on NPG 376, removed to the picture dossier in 1873, reads: Duqueza d'Alban[i]l Pompeo Batoni Pinxet. DO/ Espolio de S.M.J. a Snra. D. Carlota/ Joaquina.

Although it entered the collection with Prince Charles (NPG 376 see below, Charles, Prince) and Cardinal York (NPG 378 see below, York, Cardinal) and remains associated with these two portraits, both rightly named, the identification of NPG 377 should be treated with caution. The label, which has proved incorrect as to attribution, remains the principal source but no other versions of the type are known and the features of the lady are not easily reconciled with authentic portraits of Louisa. The hair style and costume are of this date but the sitter looks distinctly old for c.1785.

Condition: restored 1889; discoloured retouchings in the hair over left temple; some shrinkage (due to relining?) below right eye; slight losses in background; pin holes at corners.

Collections: purchased, 1873, with NPG 376 and NPG 378 from R. Butterworth, a dealer; all were stated to have come from Monsieur Husson da Camera, formerly Minister of Portugal in Rome, then living (c.1873) at S. Benedetto, near Ancona; Stuart portraits, according to the vendor, formed part of the inheritance which fell to the Queen of Portugal as heiress of her father Charles IV of Spain (1748-1819). [2]

Literature: E.K. Waterhouse, Catalogue of the Paintings at Waddesdon Manor: the James A. De Rothschild Collection, 1967.

Appearance
'La jeune Princesse', wrote Ryan to Charles, 30 September 1771, 'est d'une bonne taille, jolie de figure, très belles dents et me paroit avoir toutes les qualités que Votre Majesté désire'. [3] Bonstettin noted she was 'of the middle height, blonde, with deep blue eyes, and nose slightly turned up; the complexion dazzlingly fair like that of an Englishwoman. Her expression was maliciously gay. She seemed made to turn everybody's head'. [4] Swinburne in Courts of Europe describes her face as 'black and sallow, with a pug nose'. [5]

Iconography
Three portraits represent her at about the time of her marriage to Charles in 1772: an engraving, [NPG D10752] three-quarter length holding a rose, by Alessio Giardoni, published 1773 after a painting by the Neapolitan artist Carlo Marsigli, an oil with guitar, at Stonyhurst College, a miniature, pair with her husband, taken in Rome by Ozias Humphry, collection Lord Exeter, [6] and an oil of the first type, Scottish NPG (1520) with a crown behind her left shoulder. [7] A miniature, on the reverse of an order that belonged to Henry Benedict, Cardinal York, is among the Scottish royal jewels, Edinburgh Castle. Other versions are at Holkham and in the Seafield collection. A more neo-classic view of her features, inscribed as from her own hand and painted in 1796 for Lady Webster the year before her marriage to the 3rd Lord Holland, now belongs to Teresa, Viscountess Galway. A pastel in the Musée Fabre, which presumably belonged to the sitter, is attributed to H.D. Hamilton. A youthful portrait by Fabre, signed and dated Florence 1796, exhibited 'Pictures from Ulster Houses', 1961 (3), is in the collection of the Countess of Leitrim and another oil by the same artist in which the sitter appears considerably older, is in the Uffizi.

To avoid confusion with portraits of her contemporary Charlotte, Duchess of Albany (1753-89), Charles' daughter by Clementina Walkinshaw who also sat to H.D. Hamilton and to Giannini, the following is a provisional list of portraits of the Duchess (kindly provided by R.E. Hutchison): by H.D. Hamilton, Musée Fabre, with the same provenance as Louisa's portrait, also in the museum; a similar portrait in the Rosebery collection and another from the Seafield collection, exhibited 'Historical Portraits' 1859 (166) when given to Gavin Hamilton, a contemporary of H.D. Hamilton. The portrait at Waddesdon, [8] with a repetition in the Scottish NPG (623), may represent Charlotte. Another apparently of the same sitter at Powis Castle, is known from an old inscription on the back as Frances Lady Lavington (née Kolbel) by Nicolas Bernard Lepicié. [9] Again this is more likely to be by H.D. Hamilton. An unpublished miniature also at Powis Castle (105) may represent the same sitter.

Notes
1. b.1753, DNB, but GEC, I, p.85, gives date of baptism, 20 September 1752.
2. Butterworth letters, June-July 1873, NPG archives.
3. Stuart Papers, Royal archives, vol.457, letter 13.
4. Cited GEC, I, p.85, note d.
5. Ibid p.84, note b. Also see under Charles, Prince.
6. Exh. 'Northamptonshire Exhibition', 1938 (107), and Charles (95).
7. R.E. Hutchison, letter, 21 October 1970, NPG archives.
8. Waterhouse, p.56, and reproduction.
9. Steegman, I, p.267.