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Frances Talbot (née Jenyns (Jennings)), Duchess of Tyrconnel (formerly Lady Hamilton)

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Frances Talbot (née Jenyns (Jennings)), Duchess of Tyrconnel (formerly Lady Hamilton)

by Samuel Cooper
watercolour on vellum, circa 1665
2 7/8 in. x 2 3/8 in. (73 mm x 61 mm) oval
Purchased, 1976
Primary Collection
NPG 5095

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Samuel Cooper (1609-1672), Miniature painter. Artist associated with 111 portraits, Sitter in 4 portraits.

This portraitback to top

The swagger mount to this miniature, probably Regency, is one of several of this type found on miniatures formerly in the Talbot collection at Malahide Castle.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • The Masque of Beauty, 1972 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from National Portrait Gallery, London, 5 July-17 Sept. 1972.), p. number 12
  • Cooper, John, A Guide to the National Portrait Gallery, 2009, p. 25 Read entry

    A chaste and witty court beauty. When James II complained his defeated soldiers had ‘run well’ after the Battle of the Boyne (1690), Jennings replied, ‘Not quite as well as your majesty, for I see that you have won the race.’

  • Ingamells, John, Later Stuart Portraits 1685-1714, 2009, p. 301
  • Ollard, Richard, Pepys and his Contemporaries, 2015, p. 106
  • Ribeiro, Aileen, The Gallery of Fashion, 2000, p. 78
  • Ribeiro, Aileen; Blackman, Cally, A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery, 2015, p. 96
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 627
  • Walker, Richard, Miniatures: 300 Years of the English Miniature, 1998, p. 39 Read entry

    'La Belle Jennings' was an elder sister of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough (1689-1702) and one of the reigning beauties at the Court of Charles II, where 'she gained the admiration of everyone and was almost alone among her competitors there in maintaining a reputation of chastity' (G. E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, XII, part 2, p 122).

    Although there may be something suspicious about the clumsy SC monogram, this portrait is surely one of Cooper's best, belying the general opinion that he was at his strongest in portraits of men. Here he has certainly captured the magical quality of an English blonde. His subject is here aged about eighteen, and her fair hair, dazzling complexion and winning expression, as the contemporary biographer Anthony Hamilton said 'shoot a thousand arrows straight into the centre of the heart' (Anthony Hamilton, Memoirs of the Comte de Gramont, trans. Peter Quennell, London, 1930, p 224).

    The swagger mount, probably Regency, is one of several of this type found on miniatures formerly in the Talbot collection at Malahide Castle, and shows how cherished by their owners were these precious little works of art. She married as his second wife in 1681, Richard Talbot de Malahide, Duke of Tyrconnel.

Events of 1665back to top

Current affairs

Great Plague initially breaks out in the deprived parish of St. Giles-in-the-Fields killing thousands. Humphrey Henchman, Bishop of London, takes a leading role in organising collections of money for the poor.
Five Mile Act forbids ejected clergymen from living within five miles of a parish they formerly served.

Art and science

A New Discourse of Trade, written by Sir Josiah Child, outspokenly advocates for the advantages of free trade.
The first issue of the Royal Society's scientific journal, Philosophical Transactions, is edited by Henry Oldenburg, the Society's Secretary.


Second Anglo-Dutch War. Despite England's resounding victory at the first naval encounter, the Battle of Lowestoft, failure to seize the valuable Dutch East Indies fleet by Admiral Edward Montagu, Earl of Sandwich, and subsequent Dutch victory at the battle at Vågen, were considerable setbacks for the English.

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