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Mary Anne Clarke (née Thompson)

9 of 19 portraits on display in Room 17 at the National Portrait Gallery

Mary Anne Clarke (née Thompson), by Lawrence Gahagan, 1811 - NPG 4436 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mary Anne Clarke (née Thompson)

by Lawrence Gahagan
marble bust, 1811
25 1/4 in. (641 mm) high
Purchased, 1965
Primary Collection
NPG 4436


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Gahagan's bust was commissioned by Clarke herself and it is believed to have stood in her house between portraits of the Duke of York and Colonel Wardle. The pose, rising from the petals of a sunflower, may have been chosen as an allegory of the cast-off mistress. It derives from a celebrated Roman bust, part of the Towneley collection displayed at the British Museum form 1808, and then thought to represent Clytie, the deserted lover of Helios, who was changed into a sunflower so that she could follow her lover's progress across the sky each day.

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