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Maria Anne Fitzherbert (née Smythe)

(1756-1837), Famous beauty; morganatic wife of George IV

Sitter in 25 portraits
A woman of tact and discretion, Mrs Fitzherbert was one of the great beauties of her day. Although a Catholic and a widow she was persuaded to marry the Prince of Wales in a secret ceremony in 1785. The marriage was illegal. The Prince did not have the King's approval and the heir could not marry a Catholic without forfeiting the right to the throne. Mrs Fitzherbert was condemned to a life of deception as the Prince's 'mistress'. She patiently maintained this position for almost a decade after George's official marriage to Caroline of Brunswick in 1795.

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'Visiting the sick', by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey - NPG D12871

'Visiting the sick'

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching and aquatint, published 28 July 1806
NPG D12871

Web image not currently available

Maria Anne Fitzherbert (née Smythe)

by Thomas Holloway, published by John Sewell
line engraving, published 1786
NPG D15167

Image currently unavailable owing to copyright restrictions

The Protestant St George too much for All the Tallons, or the Beast with seven heads

by Isaac Cruikshank, published by Samuel William Fores
hand-coloured etching, published 4 April 1807
NPG D47473

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