Mary Anne Clarke (née Thompson)

Mary Anne Clarke (née Thompson), by Lawrence Gahagan, 1811 -NPG 4436 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Mary Anne Clarke (née Thompson)

by Lawrence Gahagan
24 3/8 in. x 17 3/4 in. (620 mm x 450 mm) overall
NPG 4436

Inscriptionback to top

Incised at back: L. Gahagan fecit & Pub. Nov. 1 1811 and under the base: M. A. Clarke executed from life per her order November 1811 by L. Gahagan.

This portraitback to top

The pose, rising from the petals of a sunflower, derives from a famous Roman bust then in the collection of Charles Towneley and bought from Prince Laurenzano in Naples 1772. Towneley considered it to represent Clytie, the deserted lover of Helias, who was changed into a flower (Ovid, Metamorphoses, IV, 268) but it is now considered to be a portrait bust, possibly of Antonia, daughter of Mark Antony, though 'the sunflower, which has been thought to be represented in this sculpture, is stated to be a native of America' (British Museum, Catalogue of Sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, no.1874, vol.III, pp 147-9). Towneley is known to have been extremely attached to the bust and it seems probable, judging by the inscription on the base, that Mrs Clarke was familiar with it and chose the pose deliberately as an allegory of the cast-off mistress. It is believed to have stood in Mrs Clarke's house between portraits of the Duke of York and Colonel Wardle (Paul Berry, By Royal Appointment, 1970, p 9).

Provenanceback to top

Commissioned by Mrs Clarke 1811 and in her collection; provenance unknown until bought in the King's Road, Chelsea, by H. M. Calmann who sold it to the NPG in 1965.

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.

View all known portraits for Mary Anne Clarke (née Thompson)