Mary Anne Clarke (nee Thompson)

1 portrait

Mary Anne Clarke (nee Thompson), by Adam Buck, 1803 - NPG 2793 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mary Anne Clarke (nee Thompson)

by Adam Buck
watercolour and bodycolour on ivory, 1803
4 in. x 3 1/4 in. (102 mm x 83 mm)
Purchased, 1935
Primary Collection
NPG 2793


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  • Adam Buck (1759-1833). Artist associated with 15 portraits.

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Mary Anne Clarke is best remembered for her central role in the 1809 scandal involving the sale of army commissions which forced the Duke of York's resignation as army commander-in-chief. In this miniature on ivory she appears as the Duke's mistress and her shapely form and pale skin are shown to advantage by a thin muslin gown. The Neo-classical style - which the artist Adam Buck helped to popularise - was at the height of fashion by 1803 and had become increasingly revealing. Moralists were beginning to complain about its immodesty while doctors reported a significant increase in chills and colds. Clarke fastens her dress here with two blue Wedgwood cameos and completes the look with a 'classical' hairstyle: lightly oiled and gathered up at the back of the head in a bunch of loose curls.

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