Monday, August 17, 2015

The Hampton Court Beauties are a series of 8 portraits by Sir Godfrey Kneller, depicting the most glamorous ladies from the court of William III.

The Hampton Court Beauties are a series of 8 portraits by Sir Godfrey Kneller, commissioned by Queen Mary II of England, depicting the most glamorous ladies from the court of William III. They adorn the state rooms of King William III at Hampton Court Palace. Hampton Court also houses the so-called Windsor Beauties by Sir Peter Lely, depicting the most beautiful ladies of the court of King Charles II of England, a generation before. The Hampton Court Beauties are of a plainer, less erotic style reflecting the change in opinion towards women during the latter half of the seventeenth century.

Sir Godfrey Kneller, (1646-1723)
Lady Mary Bentinck (1679-1726), wife of Algernon, 2nd Earl of Essex
circa 1700
Oil on Canvas
61.8 x 51.5 cm (24 x 20 1/4 in)

Mary Capel, Countess of Essex (1679 – 20 August 1726), born Lady Mary Bentinck, was the daughter of William Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland, a Dutch and English nobleman who became in an early stage the favourite of stadtholder William, Prince of Orange (the future King of England) and his wife Anne Villiers (died 30 November 1688).

Mary’s grandfather Sir Edward Villiers fought on the Royalist side during the English Civil War.  He was implicated in a plot to assist the escape of the Duke of York, and fled aboard where he continued to work for the Royalist cause. His wife Lady Frances Howard meanwhile secured places at court for four of her daughters, Anne, Elizabeth, Barbara and Katherine who were appointed as Ladies of the Bedchamber to the young Princesses Mary and Anne.

When William and Mary became joint monarchs following the Glorious Revolution young Lady Mary Bentinck came with them as one of the new Queen’s ladies in waiting.

In 1698 Mary married Algernon Capell, 2nd Earl of Essex. Algernon joined Mary at Court where he held the office of Gentleman of the Bedchamber to William. He served as Colonel and Lieutenant General in the 4th Dragoons, was Constable of the Tower of London and Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire and in 1708 a Privy Councillor.

Algernon died in 1710 and in 1714 Mary married the Rt Hon Sir Conyers Darcy.  Mary died in 1726 aged 47 years old.  She led a full and busy life and her memory lives on – in the evocative Kneller portrait. More

Sir Godfrey Kneller, (1646-1723)
Mary Scrope, later Mrs Pitt (b.1676)
Signed and dated 1691
Oil on canvas
232.3 x 143.4 cm

Mary Scrope (b.1676 - died 25 August 1548) was the granddaughter of Henry Scrope, 4th Baron Scrope of Bolton. She is said to have been in the service at court of King Henry VIII's first four wives. As the wife of Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower of London, she was in attendance on Anne Boleyn during the Queen's brief imprisonment in the Tower in May 1536, and both she and her husband were among those who walked with the Queen to the scaffold. By her first husband, Edward Jerningham, she was the mother of Sir Henry Jerningham, whose support helped to place Queen Mary I on the throne of England in 1553, and who became one of Queen Mary's most favoured courtiers.

Mary Scrope was one of the nine daughters of Richard Scrope. Her mother was Eleanor Washbourne (d.1505/6), the daughter of Norman Washbourne (1433-1482).

On 11 May 1509 Mary Scrope's first husband, Edward Jerningham, was one of the gentleman ushers at the funeral of King Henry VII, and Mary herself, as 'Mrs Jerningham', was among the ladies granted mantlets and kerchiefs for the funeral. On 12 June 'Edward Jerningham and Mary his wife' were granted a life estate in the manors of Lowestoft and Mutford. On 24 June Edward Jerningham was chief cup-bearer at the coronation of Catherine of Aragon, and Mary, listed as 'Mrs Mary Jerningham', was among the ladies granted cloth for gowns for the occasion. From 1509 until 1527 Mary is said to have been one of the ladies who served the Queen.

Her first husband, Edward Jerningham, died in 1515, and by 1532 she had married Sir William Kingston, who had been appointed Constable of the Tower of London on 28 May 1524. In May 1536 Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, became Kingston's prisoner. During her brief time in the Tower, Anne was attended by four women who had served either Catherine of Aragon or her daughter, Mary, and who were said to have been chosen by Thomas Cromwell because they were 'unsympathetic' to Anne. Kingston's original instructions from Cromwell were to discourage conversation with Anne. 

After the death of Anne Boleyn, the King married Jane Seymour, and at the christening of their infant son Prince Edward on 15 October 1537, Lady Kingston carried Mary Tudor's train. A few weeks later, on 12 November 1537, she was one of the twenty-nine women who walked in the funeral procession of Jane Seymour.

In 1536 Lady Kingston is said to have played a role in Mary Tudor's reconciliation with her father. Lady Kingston had charge of a joint household for Henry VIII's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, from March 1538 until April 1539. Even after she was discharged from that position, Lady Kingston's continuing relationship with the King's elder daughter.

In 1539, Lady Kingston was among thirty ladies of the court appointed to serve as "ordinary waiters" to Anne of Cleves. According to some sources, Lady Kingston was in the service of all four of King Henry VIII's first four wives. Lady Kingston was even listed as a member of Henry's last queen consort, Catherine Parr's, household.

Lady Kingston made her will in 1548, and died on 25 August of that year. More

Sir Godfrey Kneller, (1646-1723)
Carey Fraser, Countess of Peterborough (c. 1658 – 13 May 1709) 
Signed and dated 1690-91
Oil on canvas
232.3 x 143.4 cm

Carey Mordaunt (née Fraser), Countess of Peterborough and Monmouth (c. 1658 – 13 May 1709), was an English courtier. She was a maid of honour to Charles II's queen consort, Catherine of Braganza, from 1674 to 1680.

Her father was Sir Alexander Fraser, 1st Baronet, of Durris in the County of Kincardine (1607–1681), physician to Charles II, and her mother was Mary Carey, daughter of Sir Ferdinando Carey and Philippa Throckmorton.

In 1678 she married Charles Mordaunt, 2nd Viscount Mordaunt (1658–1735), later 3rd Earl of Peterborough, and created Earl of Monmouth (in 1689). The marriage was, however, kept secret until May 1680. More

Sir Godfrey Kneller, (1646-1723)
Frances Whitmore (1666–1694), Lady Myddelton
Oil on canvas
124.5 x 101.5 cm

Frances Whitmore (7 November 1666 - 1695) She was the daughter of Sir Thomas Whitmore and Hon. Frances Brooke. She married Sir Richard Myddelton, 3rd Bt., son of Sir Thomas Myddelton, 1st Bt. and Mary Cholmondeley, circa 1685/86. She died after 1695.

Her married name became Myddelton.

As one of the Hampton Court Beauties, Frances Myddelton (Nee Whitmore) was known as Lady Myddelton, coincidentally, her husband's aunt is the Mrs Myddelton of the Windsor Beauties and her own Mother is Lady Whitmore of the Windsor Beauties. More

Sir Godfrey Kneller, (1646-1723)
Lady Mary Compton (1669 – 6 August 1691)
Oil on canvas
124.5 x 101.5 cm

Lady Mary Compton (1669 – 6 August 1691), later Mary Sackville, Countess of Dorset, was a member of Queen Mary II's court She was Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Mary II.

Her father was James Compton, 3rd Earl of Northampton (1622–1681), and her mother was Hon. Mary Noel (died 1719). In 1685 she married Charles Sackville, 6th Earl of Dorset (1637–1705), KG.

They lived at Copt Hall, Waltham Abbey, Essex. More
Sir Godfrey Kneller, (1646-1723)
Diana De Vere, Duchess of St. Albans (c. 1679–15 January 1742
c. 1691
Oil on canvas
124.5 x 101.5 cm

Diana Beauclerk, Duchess of St Albans (c. 1679–15 January 1742), born Lady Diana de Vere, was a British courtier. She was Mistress of the Robes to Caroline, Princess of Wales from 1714 to 1717. 

She was the daughter of the Aubrey de Vere, 20th Earl of Oxford and Diana Kirke. On 17 April 1694, she married the 1st Duke of St Albans, an illegitimate son of King Charles II and his mistress Nell Gwynne, whereupon Diana became Duchess of St Albans. Together Beauclerk and Diana had 12 children. More

Sir Godfrey Kneller, (1646-1723)
Isabella, Duchess of Grafton (c. 1688-1723) and her son Charles Fitzroy, later 2nd Duke of Grafton (1683-1757)
oil on canvas 
94 x 57¼ in. (238.8 x 145.4 cm.)

Isabella Bennet FitzRoy, 2nd Countess of Arlington and Duchess of Grafton (c. 1668–7 February 1723) was a British peer, heiress, and the daughter of Henry Bennet, 1st Earl of Arlington, a Royalist commander, by his wife Isabella de Nassau (1633–1718). Henry was created Baron Arlington for his loyalty to the crown. Lord Arlington was later further raised in the peerage to the titles of Earl of Arlington and Viscount Thetford, all of which were created with special remainder to allow women to inherit.

Isabella was married at the age of four to Henry FitzRoy, Earl of Euston (later created Duke of Grafton), the nine-year-old illegitimate son of King Charles II. The wedding ceremony was repeated on 7 November 1679 and they lived at Euston Hall. Isabella and her husband had one son, Charles FitzRoy, 2nd Duke of Grafton, who succeeded both his parents as 2nd Duke of Grafton and 3rd Earl of Arlington. After her first husband's death in 1690 from a wound received at the storming of Cork while leading the forces of William of Orange, the Duchess of Grafton remarried on 14 October 1698 to Sir Thomas Hanmer. More

Sir Godfrey Kneller, (1646-1723)
Margaret Cecil, Countess of Ranelagh (1672-1728)  
c. 1690-91
Oil on canvas
124.5 x 101.5 cm

Margaret Cecil, Countess of Ranelagh (1672/1673 – 21 February 1728) was a British courtier. Lady Margaret was the daughter of James Cecil, 3rd Earl of Salisbury and his wife Margaret, a daughter of the Earl of Rutland. She first married John Stawell, 2nd Baron Stawell; he died in 1692 without their having any issue, although Crofts Peerage states they had one daughter, Anne. She later married Richard Jones, 1st Earl of Ranelagh on 9 January, either 1695 or 1696; Crofts states they had no issue. Her third husband was George Thomas Downing; the couple had a daughter Sarah Isabell Downing, and a son, George Downing. More

Sir Godfrey Kneller, (1646-1723) was the successor to Lely as the principal portrait artist at the English Court. In the 1691, he was asked by Queen Mary II to paint the ‘Hampton Court Beauties’, the eight ‘reigning toasts’ of her own Court: ‘the most beautiful site because the originals were all in being, and often to be compared with their pictures’. Mary herself was the ‘Sovereign Queen of Beauty’, a fashion trend-setter and collector of fine china. In her commission to Kneller, she was consciously paying homage to the Lely ‘Windsor Beauties’, collected by her mother a generation earlier. 

This was a passionate decadent age, where the sensuality of the Court was reflected in its portraiture, when the rewards of using your beauty to advance your ambition were manifest. Royal mistresses like Nell Gwyn were handsomely rewarded for their services; Nell’s own son by the King, Charles Beauclerk, was created Duke of St Albans, and married into the established aristocracy: Diana de Vere was the daughter of the Earl of Oxford and another of Kneller’s ‘Hampton Court Beauties’.

Beauty was not just an aesthetic experience. It was an instrument of ambition, a conduit to pleasure and a magnet for sleaze. More

Acknowledgment; WickipeidaHistoric Royal Palaces