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Mary Robinson (née Darby)

1 of 12 portraits of Mary Robinson (née Darby)

Mary Robinson (née Darby), by Sir Joshua Reynolds, circa 1782 -NPG 5264 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Mary Robinson (née Darby)

by or after Sir Joshua Reynolds
circa 1782
10 in. x 8 in. (254 mm x 203 mm)
NPG 5264

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed lower left in Reynolds's autograph: from/Sir Jos. Reynolds, and lower right in ink: Mrs Robinson.

This portraitback to top

The drawing appears to be a study for, or copy from, Reynolds's famous portrait of 'Perdita' at Waddesdon Manor (E. K. Waterhouse, The James A. De Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor: Paintings, 1967, pp 78-9 and reproduced). It is squared off as for enlargement to a 30 x 25 in canvas and judging from the inscription may have been a present from Reynolds to Mrs Robinson herself though this was by no means his usual habit which was never to part with drawings at all. A large collection of them, bequeathed to his niece, is in the RA library (Luke Herrman in Burlington Magazine, CX, 1968, pp 60-8). Sittings were in January-April 1782, the oil was shown at the RA in May, and further sittings took place in August after the exhibition was over. It was believed at the time to represent the sitter in the guise of Rubens's portrait of Hélène Fourment, then at Houghton and now in the Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, though it also resembles the portrait of Susanna Fourment, seen by Reynolds in Antwerp in 1781 when he seems to have coined its misleading title of 'chapeau de paille' himself (Gregory Martin, The Flemish School (National Gallery Catalogue 1970) pp 174-82). The NPG drawing, which shows 'Perdita' in a large hat with ostrich plume, does not extend as far to the waist as in the Waddesdon oil where the hands are crossed in a similar pose to Rubens; the head too is held at a sharper angle in the drawing than in the oil.

Physical descriptionback to top

Head and shoulders to left in broad-brimmed hat with plume.

Provenanceback to top

Charles Ryskamp 1971; Benjamin Sonnenberg; Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 5 June 1979 (58) bought Newhouse Galleries for the NPG.


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 Sir Joshua Reynolds

View all known portraits for Mary Robinson (née Darby)

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