Harriot Beauclerk (née Mellon), Duchess of St Albans

1 portrait

Harriot Beauclerk (née Mellon), Duchess of St Albans, by Sir William Beechey, circa 1815 - NPG 1915 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Harriot Beauclerk (née Mellon), Duchess of St Albans

by Sir William Beechey
oil on canvas, circa 1815
94 in. x 58 in. (2388 mm x 1473 mm)
Bequeathed by W.L.A. Burdett Coutts, 1921
Primary Collection
NPG 1915

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  • Sir William Beechey (1753-1839), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 250 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.

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From 1815, the year of peace with France, Romantic influences began to dominate female dress. The narrow skirt remained but waists rose ever higher while the width across the bust was further emphasised by puffed sleeves. For evening wear, the muslins of the previous decade were being replaced by lustrous satins, veiled by overdresses of pale net to produce a shimmering effect. These were usually elaborately trimmed. The deep veil and overdress worn by the Duchess of St Albans in this painting are finished with the finest lace. This is combined with costly pearl tassels and sleeve decorations to create an air of luxury and sophistication. In her hand she carries a pair of white kid gloves. Her hair is worn in the fashionable 'Ancient Greek' style: longer, with a centre parting and curls bunched on the crown.

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