Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of the Rt. Hon. Lady Caroline Montagu(e) (1745-1818) 

Gervase Spencer (fl.1740-63)

Portrait miniature of the Rt. Hon. Lady Caroline Montagu(e) (1745-1818), Gervase Spencer
Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Oval, 45mm (1 ¾ in) high
Private Collection
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Caroline Montagu was born in 1745, the daughter of Robert Montagu, 3rd Duke of Manchester (1710-1762) and Harriet Dunch. This portrait miniature was probably commissioned to celebrate Caroline’s role supporting Queen Charlotte's train at her wedding, on the 8th September, 1761 . Her father was the MP for Huntingdonshire, Lord of the Bedchamber and Lord Chamberlain to Queen Charlotte until his death in 1762. In 1775 Caroline married Charles Herbert Dormer (1743-1816), brother of Henry Herbert, 1st Earl of Carnarvon. The couple had no children.

Gervase Spencer remains an elusive character, whose date of birth is not known. He was a gentleman’s servant before discovering a talent for painting. His work caught the eye of George Vertue who described him in 1740 as ‘a young man who not or a few years ago was in the capacity of a footman to Dr. W…-and now professes liming with some success. which demonstrates a Genius pratizing by degrees of himself – and really is in a curious neat manner and masterly’. His work was commissioned by the royal family and nobility, as demonstrated by this portrait miniature of Caroline Montagu. A portrait miniature by Spencer of George III is in the Royal Collection at Windsor.
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