The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Mary Robinson (née Darby)

© National Portrait Gallery, London

 Like voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

Please Like other favourites!
If they inspire you please support our work.

Make a donation Close
  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

Mary Robinson (née Darby)

by George Dance
pencil, 1793
10 1/4 in. x 8 1/4 in. (260 mm x 210 mm)
Purchased, 1900
Primary Collection
NPG 1254

Sitterback to top

  • Mary Robinson (née Darby) (1756 or 1758-1800), Known as 'Perdita'; writer, actress and mistress of the future George IV. Sitter in 12 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • George Dance (1741-1825), Architect and portrait draughtsman. Artist associated with 322 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.

Related worksback to top

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Pioneering Women, p. 47 Read entry

    The English actress and author Mary Robinson (1756/1758-1800) became known as Perdita after her success in that role in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale in 1779. Celebrated in her youth as a great beauty, painted by the likes of Reynolds and Gainsborough, she became the mistress of the Prince Regent for four years, after he saw her performance as Perdita. In her early life, however, she had suffered great hardship, finding herself, at sixteen, in debtors’ prison, having been bullied by her mother into a disastrous marriage with the profligate Thomas Robinson. It was on her release that actor-manager David Garrick prepared her for her debut at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, in 1776. Her subsequent stage success ended in 1780, however, with her role in Lady Craven’s The Miniature Picture, a poignant farewell. In her mid-twenties, an unidentified illness left her partially paralysed. Too enfeebled to return to the stage, she began writing, prolifically, both poetry and prose, both well regarded, and one of her seven novels, Vincenza (1792), became a bestseller. Her extensive literary circle included Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, the latter describing her as ‘a most accomplished and delightful woman, the celebrated Mrs. Robinson’.

  • Holmes, Richard, The Romantic Poets and Their Circle, 2013, p. 76
  • Holmes, Richard, Insights: The Romantic Poets and Their Circle, 2005, p. 61
  • Ingamells, John, Mrs. Robinson and her portraits, 1978, p. 28
  • Rogers, Malcolm, Master Drawings from the National Portrait Gallery, 1993 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 August to 23 October 1994), p. 64
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 527
  • Walker, Richard, Regency Portraits, 1985, p. 417

Events of 1793back to top

Current affairs

Whig MP Charles Grey enters a motion for parliamentary reform but is defeated in the House of Commons.

Art and science

Radical philosopher William Godwin publishes Political Justice, an inflamatory document that promoted rational anarchism. This crystallised a wider feeling that a new era of world peace and progress was beginning.
Sir William Beechey is appointed Portrait Painter to her Majesty, Queen Charlotte.

International

Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette are executed and the Reign of Terror begins.
France declares war on Britain, Holland and then Spain. William Pitt addresses the House of Commons and Britain hesitantly joins the first coalition of anti-revolutionary European states to oppose the French threat.
Attack on Corsica in which Captain Horatio Nelson loses an eye.

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. You can buy a print of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at £6 for unframed prints, £25 for framed prints. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.

Citationclose

How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.