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Regency Portraits Catalogue

Elizabeth (née Farren), Countess of Derby (1759?-1829), Actress and second wife of 12th Earl of Derby

Most of the Derby family portraits are at Knowsley, Lancashire. An account of Miss Farren's portraits is in Connoisseur, XXIX, 1911, pp 95-101, Hall's Harvard Theatre Collection Catalogue lists 30 engravings of her, mostly in character parts. Straight portraits out of character are:

c.1780
Oil by Zoffany in National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, whole-length as 'Hermione' in The Winter's Tale.

1785-7
Drawings by Downman (NPG 2652).

c.1785-90
Oil by Hoppner at Knowsley, head and shoulders exhibited 'Derby Day 200', RA, 1979 and colour reproduction in catalogue.

1787
Miniature by J. Nixon exhibited RA 1787 (314) and Exhibition of the Royal House of Guelph, New Gallery, 1891 (1921) lent by J. L. Propert; a drawing by Nixon, profile to left in grey, brown and pink wash, is BM 1909.4.6.39.

c.1788
Marble bust by Mrs Damer (NPG 4469).

1790-1800
Miniature by Donaldson in A. J. Fink collection, Baltimore, exhibited Pennsylvania Society of Miniature Painters 1951 (161).

1790
Oil by Lawrence in Metropolitan Museum, New York, whole-length standing in a landscape in creamy silk dress and fur trimmings, exhibited RA 1790 (171) and 'Sir Thomas Lawrence', NPG 1979-80 (4) reproduced in colour p 33 and with catalogue entry by Sir Michael Levey.

1791
Miniature by Engleheart in Twiston Davies sale Sotheby's 10 July 1981 (55) colour reproduction.

1792
Oval drawing by Condé engraved in Thespian Magazine, 1 December 1792.

1794
Print in National Theatre Collection, whole-length of Miss Farren demonstrating the iron safety curtain at the opening of the New Theatre 21 April 1794; water gushes on the stage across which a boatman rows, reproduced Mander & Mitchenson, The British Theatre, 1957, 153.

c.1794
Pastel by Ozias Humphry in National Gallery of Ireland, oval head and shouders exhibited RA 1794 (343); reproduced Connoisseur, XXIX, 1911, p 95.

1798
Miniature by Cosway sold Parke-Bernet NY 24-5 January 1958 (223) inscribed on back: Miss E. Farren Actress Countess of Derby Rdus Cosway R.A. Principis Pinxit 1798. Other Cosway miniatures are in Lord Wharncliffe's collection (reproduced Williamson, Cosway, 1897, p 50) and at Knowsley lent to 'British Portraits', RA, 1956-7 (274). An oil head and shoulders attributed to Cosway in Garrick Club (no.448) was presented in 1854 as by Gainsborough.

c.1800-5
Miniature by Shelley lent to Exhibition of the Royal House of Guelph, New Gallery, 1891 (966) by Jeffery Whitehead and reproduced Williamson, Portrait Miniatures, 1897, p 54, seated with her daughter aged about 3.

c.1800
Drawing by Rivers in Royal Collection (A. P. Oppé, English Drawings … at Windsor Castle, 1950, 497) engraved by Ridley for Vernor & Hood, 1 June 1800 (?The Monthly Mirror), head and shoulders in turban and slashed sleeves.

1810
Pastel by John Russell at Sotheby's 15 March 1967 (16), three-quarter-length seated in white dress in bamboo chair, in poor condition.

Undated
Miniature attributed to Horace Hone in the Garrick Club (427R).

Miniature by Plimer at Christie's 29 November 1977 (83).

Oil attributed to Gilbert Stuart ex Alice Countess of Derby's collection and with Phillips Gallery Philadelphia in 1959, head and shoulders to right in an oval reproduced Connoisseur, CXLI (February 1958 Agnews advertisement) but not listed in Lawrence Park, Gilbert Stuart, 1926.

Silhouette on glass by Mrs Beetham, reproduced Wellesley, One Hundred Silhouettes, 1912, plate 23, identity doubtful.

Satires
Miss Farren's attenuated figure and her affair and eventual marriage with Lord Derby lent themselves to caricature.

Sayers satirised in etchings of c.1790 - A Moving Scene in the Fair Creation (with Robert Bensley) and A Peep behind the Curtain at the Widow Belmour, both unpublished but impressions in the NPG library.

Others were Richard Dighton's DERBY & JOAN or the Platonic Lovers, 1795 (British Museum 8727), Gillray's A Peep at Christie's, 1796 and CONTEMPLATIONS upon a CORONET, 1797 (British Museum 8888 and 9074), and George Woodward's pencil and watercolour drawing at Windsor Castle, A Morning Rehearsal Previous to the Presentation, c.1795 (A. P. Oppé, English Drawings … at Windsor Castle, 1950, 681).



This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.