Sunday, 26 January 2014

Visiting Bath

Reynolds may or may not have painted this portrait of the grandmother of the Bath Holburne Museum's founder, tucked away high on one of the Museum's walls. The Museum's website records a cleaning in 1992, which included the removal of "a rosebud which had been added to the sitter's décolletage at some point".

The sitter was born Frances Ball in 1719, and brought up in Barbados. Aged 12, she was married off to a man 17 years her senior, and bore him - esides four other children - two sons. On her husband's early death, she married Admiral Holburne by whom she had more children, before dying in her early forties.

The younger son of the first marriage, Francis had a granddaughter, Frances, who in turn had a son Francis: his posthumous daughter, another Frances, has a great-granddaughter Ida Frances, who was looking up at her ancestor's portrait with me yesterday afternoon.

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