Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Devonshire Amusement

To unveil this new blog, which is always an awkward and difficult thing to do anyway, I decided to use an icebreaker in terms of introduction. And by introduction I not only mean to the blog world but also to the person whose name adorns this page and is therefore worshiped by myself: Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

The above image is one of my favorite depictions of her Grace. It is a satirical image from 1784, which happened to be a very big year in the Duchess' life. Not only did she have her first child after years of painful miscarriages, but she also became notorious for her part in the 1784 Westminster elections. In fact, this seemed to be the thing she became the most known for, besides of course being a leader of fashion. She became the first woman to canvass for a political leader, hers being Charles James Fox. The image shows Georgiana on the left brandishing a staff with the head of Fox on it, identifiable by the fox tails. She holds in her other hand an image of the Prince of Wales, another Whig figurehead. In the right panel we see her cuckolded husband tending to their child.

Of course the image is meant to me more insulting to the Duke, who could probably cared less about his public image. Although it's meant to be equally insulting to the Duchess of Devonshire, I think it fails in this. From an 18th century viewpoint we see a lady out of control, and therefore whose sexuality is out of control as well. From a contemporary standpoint we see an awesome image of feminine power and liberty.

As an introduction to Georgiana, we have a perfect first impression. This nonchalant image captures what the stuffy portraits cannot portray, a personality that stands out in a sea of powdered coiffures.


  1. HI!
    I just discovered your site after it being mentioned on Jane Austen Today. It looks great! I especially like how you can translate the text - I got tickled seeing how the text looks in Russian, etc.

    I just wondered how you chose Georgiana as your icon? It's interesting to find out about this woman 200 years later. I like that she's an ancestor of Princess Di and when you mentioned her connection to Charles Fox, I was able to put into context, having seen Aristocrats!

    Love the period costumes!

  2. Hello! I'm glad you've found your way over! Georgiana actually found me, and we've been stuck together ever since. I was introduced to her both by my first visit to her home, Chatsworth and through my supervisor. I think she's a good starting point to be introduced to other big players in the 18th century. Hope to see you around more!

  3. So glad that I've found your lovely blog. I'm looking forward to learning more about the Duchess and company.

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