Tuesday

Princess Amelia - portrait of King George III

This very interesting miniature of George III (1738-1820) is unsigned, but has been attributed to Princess Amelia (7 Aug 1783-3 Nov 1810) the youngest daughter of George III and reputedly his favourite daughter, whom he called Emily. Like many of the family she was quite a skilful artist.

At auction, the miniature was only described as Superb enamelled painting of a Georgian Gentleman dating from circa 1750. The only provenance the vendor was able to ascertain was that the miniature was part of a very small collection of miniatures sold by a deceased estate in Earlswood, Solihull, Warwickshire. The house was also sold at the same auction and is being knocked down for a new development, unfortunately it was an old Georgian house from the 18C which was falling down.

However, the sitter is obviously King George III. The Royal Collection contains a number of miniature portraits of George III. They are illustrated in the catalogue prepared by Richard Walker and titled "Miniatures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen - The Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries".

Of particular interest however, is the miniature illustrated as fig 143 on page 77 and shown here in a black and white image. It is 99 mm x 79 mm and is painted in enamel on copper. Of all the portraits of George III, no other portrait has been found with the same pose.

On the reverse of the frame the miniature in the Royal Collection is inscribed on a paper label: "George the 3rd. - painted on copper by the Princess Amelia - given by her to the surgeon Dr Arthur Hill Hassel's grandfather. Dr Arthur Hill Hassell married Mrs Howden's sister -."

For convenient reference, a portrait of Princess Amelia by Charlotte Jones, itself copied from another portrait by the artist Anne Mee, is shown here, with the original being in the Royal Collection.

To try and track down the possible recipient of the miniature in the Royal Collection, Arthur Hill Hassel(l) has been researched. He was probably the Dr Arthur Hill Hassall (1817-1894) shown here in a photograph, who in 1868 founded the Royal National Hospital for Consumption which continued for many years and was closed on its one hundredth anniversary in 1968.

Hassall was born in 1817, the son of Thomas and Ann Hassall in Teddington Middlesex. In the 1851 census, Arthur Hill Hassall was living in 67 Park St, Westminster with his wife Fanny (1825-?) who was born in Hackney. In the 1861 census he was recorded only as living at 74 Wimpole St with two servants, but in the 1871 census there is a Fanny Hassall recorded as residing in Harrow, apparently as a visitor. He was possibly married twice, as a Fanny Hassell, born c1820, is recorded as dying in JFM 1882 in Hendon and there is a marriage of Arthur Hill Hassall in JAS 1883 at Islington, possibly to Alice Margaret MacGill (1847-?) of Clapham.

Arthur Hill Hassall reportedly entered medicine as an apprentice to his uncle Sir James Murray (1788-1871 and shown here) and Hassall spent his early career in Dublin. Sir James Murray is referred to at Sir James Murray, physician and apothecary, 1788 - 1871 as the inventor of Milk of Magnesia.

To date, no closer link to Princess Amelia has been established for the recipient of a gift of a miniature, but it could be by the father of Sir James Murray. Another possibility is the doctor to the Princess, Sir Henry Halford, referred to below. Whether Sir Henry Halford was related to Sir James Murray or Dr Hassall is unknown at present.

The miniature acquired for this collection is almost exactly the same size as the one in the Royal Collection, at 101 mm x 80 mm, and the image is almost exactly the same, there being marginally more of the clothing in view, although these apparent differences may only be as a result of the frame concealing the extreme edge.

It therefore seems that Princess Amelia painted at least two versions of the miniature and gave them to her friends.

Although, Princess Amelia was an amateur artist, she has demonstrated considerable skill in tackling the most difficult miniature painting technique, enamel on copper. This is difficult as the raw pigments used change colour during firing in the kiln and hence it requires skill to know how to apply the pigments.

Princess Amelia had special drawing teachers, but it is not known which of them taught her to use enamels.

Richard Walker also observes "Princess Amelia may had had a sitting from her father, but she is more likely to have made use of Zoffany's portrait of 1771 in the Royal Collection." The Zoffany portrait can be seen at George III For convenient reference a small portion of it is shown here.

The Zoffany portrait was painted 12 years before Princess Amelia was born, so no doubt it was familiar to her as she grew up. However, it is interesting that the clothing worn in the miniature is so different to that of the Zoffany portrait.

Although Walker does not say so, a plausible reason may be that George III sat for Princess Amelia around 1800, so she was able to draw the pose and the clothing from life, but for the head she went to the Zoffany portrait and used this as the basis to complete her miniature. That would have enabled her to take more time and get a better likeness, as painting the king from life in enamels would have been very difficult.

The reverse of the miniature is covered by the normal enamel covering needed to avoid the miniature cracking during firing.

There are some numbers right in the centre of the rear which appear to read "53X" and "91N", but the significance of these is currently unknown. It is also unknown whether the miniature in the Royal Collection is inscribed in a similar manner.

Some sources say that in 1803 Princess Amelia fell in love with Sir Charles FitzRoy (1762-1831), an equerry 21 years older than herself, and a younger son of Charles FitzRoy, 1st Baron Southampton. After her death, he became heir to all her property.

According to most Internet sources, the liaison commenced earlier and they are said to have had one child, Hugh Huntly, born 6 Jan 1796 in Dublin and who died in 1829.

However, if conception is taken as say, nine months prior to this, on say, 6 Apr 1795, Amelia would have only been 11 years and 9 months old at the time of conception, and her pregnancy is highly unlikely. Nevertheless, one wonders what gave rise to the speculation.

Presumably the answer is that Hugh Huntly was an illegitimate son of Charles Fitzroy, but of a mother who died in childbirth, and Amelia becoming aware of the child, indicated to Fitzroy she was willing to recognise Huntly as her step-son, in the event she was able to later marry Fitzroy.

Although Hugh Huntly died in 1829, he had married and had one child, Charles Hugh Grafton Fitzroy Beachcroft Huntly, (19 Nov 1819 - 15 Aug 1889) who became Civil Commissioner of Albany, South Africa and whose obituary is included in The Illustrated London News for 7 Sep 1889. Charles himself had 10 children, so that even today there are people who may believe they are descended from Princess Amelia, although as outlined above, this is unlikely.

It is not clear whether Amelia was formally married to FitzRoy, but she considered herself married to him and signed her correspondence with the initials “AFR”, for Amelia FitzRoy. The Queen was told of the affair by a servant, but turned a blind eye. Amelia knew she could not legally marry FitzRoy due to the provisions of the Royal Marriages Act, but she hoped to gain Privy Council consent after she attained the age of 25. However, her poor health precluded that course of action and she died at the age of 27 in 1810.

Sir Charles Fitzroy later married Eliza Barlow on 21 Sep 1816, but they seem not to have had any children and he died in 1831. Although not certain, it seems as a widow Lady Eliza Fitzroy lived at the home of the Duke of Grafton for the 1841 census and she may have then died in 1850.

Contained within the collection are two other miniatures of George III which depict him more as he would have been at the time of Princess Amelia's death, one in wax by Catherine Andras (1775-1860) and the other by an unknown artist.

According to a New York Times report quoting an 1895 book entitled "The Life of Sir Henry Halford Bart", Sir Henry Halford (1766-1844 and shown here) was doctor to Princess Amelia and she disclosed to him the fact of her secret marriage, begging him to tell the King. Halford refused, but it did fall to him to communicate the fact of Amelia's death.

Sir Henry said to the King that he was going to "try his piety", alluding to the King's somewhat obscure notion that every death that took place in his family was meant to be a trial of his faith. The King immediately replied that he supposed Amelia was dead. Sir Henry assented and the King began talking to himself in a rambling way "Poor girl!" he exclaimed when he had become more composed. See NEW PUBLICATIONS; THE PHYSICIAN OF FOUR SOVEREIGNS

Even when Sir Henry Halford asked George III if he wished to know the provisions of Princess Amelia's will, the King did not realise the possibility of a secret marriage to Fitzroy. "Certainly, certainly, I want to know," the King said with great eagerness.

Sir Henry reminded the King that at the beginning of his illness he had appointed Fitzroy to ride with Princess Amelia; how the King had left Fitzroy with her at Weymouth; how it was natural and proper that she should leave Fitzroy some token for these services; that excepting jewels she had nothing to leave, and had bequeathed them all to Fitzroy. That the Prince of Wales, thinking jewels a very inappropriate bequest for a man, had instead given Fitzroy a pecuniary compensation for the jewels. The Prince then distributed slight tokens to all the attendants and friends of the Princess, giving the bulk of the jewels to Princess Mary, Princess Amelia's most constant and kindest of nurses. Upon this the poor King exclaimed, ' Quite right, just like the Prince of Wales;' and no more was said. (It is even possible the miniature of George III by Princess Amelia, was given as a token to an attendant or friend as part of that process.)

The following story is told about Sir Henry Halford, as the "Bone Collector"

"Charles I was beheaded [in 1649, after the English Civil War] then buried at Windsor Castle in the same vault as Henry VIII. For years, the coffins were lost, but in 1813 they were rediscovered and an autopsy performed by the royal surgeon, Sir Henry Halford. He secretly stole Charles I fourth cervical vertebra, which had been cleanly sliced by the axe. For the next 30 years, he loved to shock friends at dinner parties by using the vertebra as a salt holder." [The bone was later returned, at Queen Victoria's behest, to Charles I coffin.] Sir Henry was also involved in the exhumation of Charles II and from his account of this it has been determined that Charles II died from apoplexy.

For more about Halford, who was born Henry Vaugham, but changed his name after inheriting an ample fortune and was knighted on 27 Sep 1809, see Royal College of Physicians In the 1841 census, Sir Henry lived in Curzon St Westminster, with Henry Halford (c1796-?) and a daughter, or perhaps more likely a niece, Miss Vaughan (c1806-?), and nine servants. His city home was next door to the Earl of Hopetoun. Sir Henry did have a daughter Louisa Halford (?-1865) who married Frederick Coventry on 18 Oct 1819 but no link has been found between her and Arthur Hill Hassall. His country house was at Wistow.com | History of Wistow

His son, also Sir Henry, and a classical scholar like his father, was for many years member of Parliament for the Harborough Division of Leicestershire and his grandson the third and last Sir Henry, was the first Chairman of Leicestershire County Council and a very prominent Volunteer and marksman. So far no link has been found with Arthur Hill Hassall from any Sir Henry Halford.

Amelia had remained unable to achieve happiness as her health deteriorated. In 1808 she had a severe attack of measles and from then things became worse until her death in 1810 from tuberculosis, her father consulting with her doctors several times a day.

Near the end she had a special mourning ring made and one day when the King approached, she placed on his finger a ring containing a small lock of her hair, set beneath a crystal tablet, enclosed by a few sparks of diamonds, and uttered "Remember me!". The words and her death shortly thereafter, are believed to have reactivated the illness of King George, which led to the subsequent invocation of the Regency Act of 1811 and the era commonly called "The Regency Period".

Princess Amelia was the first member of the royal family to be buried in the Royal Vault in St George's Chapel, Windsor. Several portraits of Princess Amelia can be seen at Royal Collection - Princess Amelia and Princess Amelia (1783-1810), 6th daughter of George III

Although there is no specific reason to connect the miniature with a doctor, others who are possibly related to Dr Arthur Hill Hassall include doctors and attendants ministering to Princess Amelia, such as Dr Matthew Baillie (1761-1823), Sir David Dundas and Dr Pope, as well as a doctor ministering to George III, Dr William Heberden the Younger (1767-1845).

Thus although there is no provenance it seems likely Princess Amelia gave this miniature of her father, George III, to one of her friends, or one of her doctors, or even possibly to Sir Charles Fitzroy. Given all the above circumstances, it seems Sir Henry Halford would have been one of those most likely to be given a version by Princess Amelia. 1273

1 comment:

John Brandler said...

The Portrait of Lady Eliza Fitzroy waas painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence and is currently at Brandler Galleries in Essex