Isaac and Ede

For BADA Week 2023 BADA Print Dealers Isaac and Ede have chosen to feature a charming pair of Georgian mezzotints.

The first is a portrait of Elizabeth Dutchess of Hamilton & Brandon, And Dutchess of Argyll, by John Finlayson after Catherine Read.

The Dutchess had a somewhat unconventional pathway to nobility as David Isaac explains, "Elizabeth Gunning was born in Huntingdonshire in 1733 but moved with her family to Ireland in 1740 at the age of seven. When she and her sister came of age their mother, concerned about the family's relative poverty, encouraged the girls to seek work upon the stage in Dublin. This was not a particularly respectable endeavour and many similar girls ended up as courtesans to wealthy benefactors or, even more distressing, prostitutes hanging around the stage door.

Luckily for Elizabeth she had the good fortune to go to London in 1752 and there attended a party at Bedford House thrown by the Duke of Hamilton. The Duke fell for her instantly and vowed to marry her that very night. A priest was summoned but refused to conduct the marriage as the bans had not been read and there was neither a licence or a ring. The Duke was so impassioned that they escaped the party and were married at The Mayfair Chapel in a clandestine ceremony later that evening.

Elizabeth's rise continued and she rapidly became an accomplished society hostess. From 1761-1784 she served as a Lady to the Bedchamber of Queen Charlotte. In 1759, a year after Hamilton's death, she married John Campbell who later became the Duke of Argyll and bestowed the title of Duchess upon his wife. Even the king fell for her charms and created her Duchess of Hamilton. This print lists her many titles!

The Right Honourable Georgiana, Lady Viscountess Spencer and Her daughter the Hon.ble Miss Georgiana SpencerThe second work is a portrait of The Right Honourable Georgiana, Lady Viscountess Spencer and Her daughter the Hon.ble Miss Georgiana Spencer, by J. S. Paul after Sir Joshua Reynolds, published in London in 1771.

This charming and intimate portrait depicts the viscountess with her daughter in a domestic setting with the family dog making an amusing appearance bottom right. The young Miss Spencer, eldest daughter of the 1st Earl Spencer, was born in 1757. She would go on to achieve huge notoriety when, after her marriage to the 5th Duke of Devonshire in 1774, she became one of the country's most famous duchesses: chatelain of Chatsworth, a leader of fashion, a dominant figure in high society and an influential presence upon the political stage.