portrait of the week


Caroline of Ansbach – portrait of the week

Caroline Wilhelmina of Brandenburg-Ansbach, after Kneller, 1716. Photo: National Portrait Gallery, London. It seems very apt to be kicking off a new month and what looks set to be a brilliant season of Georgian frolics with the portrait of Caroline of Ansbach, Queen of George II, who was born on this day in 1683. I have an enormous fondness for Caroline, who for some reason isn’t one of our better known Queens but certainly deserves to be, and I hope that this year’s excellent programme of Georgian events all over the country will make her a favourite with lots of […]


Portrait of the Week – Maria Amalia of Austria

Maria Amalia of Austria, Duchess of Parma, Roslin, c1780. I suspect this fabulous portrait was intended as a present for her little sister Marie Antoinette, with whom she maintained a friendly correspondence after their separation. Both women were of similar fun loving dispositions and were married to Bourbon husbands (first cousins in fact as they were both grandsons of Louis XV) that they might not perhaps have chosen for themselves had they had any say in the matter! It seems like a really long time ago now that I wrote The Secret Diary of a Princess, my novel about Marie […]


Queen Victoria – Portraits of the Week

Queen Victoria at the Drury Lane Theatre, November 1837, Parris, c1837. Photo: Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Queen Victoria died on this day in 1901 at the age of eighty one after reigning for almost sixty four years. I’ve been reading a lot about Victoria lately, mostly from the perspective of her children and household, which wasn’t generally complimentary. When I was a very little girl, I remember being somewhat bewitched by the romantic image of Victoria as she was depicted by Winterhalter – all swirling silk and tulle skirts, floral garlands and coy smiles and it […]


Sir Cecil Beaton – portrait of the week

Queen Elizabeth, Buckingham Palace, Sir Cecil Beaton, 1939. Photo: Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Today marks the birthday of Sir Cecil Beaton, whose wonderfully glamorous photographs always evoke for me the heady, brittle glamour of mid twentieth century high society – from film stars to writers to shy debutantes to their sophisticated mothers, he captured them all for posterity. It was quite difficult to pick just one Beaton photograph as portrait of the week but in the end I went with this wonderfully frothy and romantic picture of Queen Elizabeth, dolled up in all her finery in […]


Princess Charlotte and Lawrence – Portrait of the Week

Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, after Thomas Lawrence, 1817. Photo: National Portrait Gallery, London. Yes, it’s time to resurrect that old favourite – portrait of the week, I decided to incorporate not one but two events that happened on this day, the birth of Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales in 1796 and the death of Sir Thomas Lawrence (another famous Bristolian who was born just down the road from where I am sitting right at this very moment) in 1830, in one cunning package. I know. I’m just too good to you. This is a sad one though as the […]


Portrait of the Week – Madame Royale

Marie Thérèse Charlotte de France, Füger, c1795. Photo: Hermitage Museum. The unfortunate Marie Thérèse Charlotte of France was born in Versailles on this day in 1778 to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. I’ve always been fascinated by Marie Thérèse and her tragic life story, which goes from riches to rags and then back to riches again. Although she left memoirs of her experiences during the Revolution, she was so naturally reserved that it’s still hard to get a proper feel for how she must have actually been and how she really felt about the events that destroyed her world and […]