Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait believed to be Hortense Mancini Duchesse de Mazarin 1675c.

Jacob Ferdinand Voet 

Portrait believed to be Hortense Mancini Duchesse de Mazarin, Jacob Ferdinand Voet
Oil on canvas
17th Century
18 x 15 inches 47.6 x 45.7 cm
Hortense Mancini was the niece of Cardinal Mazarin, first minister of Louis XIV, one of seven sisters all of whom garnished impressive titles through marriage, and all of whom had stormy careers that echo that of Hortense. She is perhaps the least known of King Charles II's mistresses, but, though less successful, she equalled any in ambition.

Hortense Mancini arrived in England in the winter of 1675, ostensibly on a visit to her cousin Mary of Modena, recently married to James Dukeof York. She left little time, however, before impressing herself upon the King. Wits observed, by the summer of the following year, that she left Charles's side only when he took his bath. Hortense may well have thought her situation secured when she was installed in the former appartments of Barbara Palmer Lady Castlemaine and when Louise de Kerouaille's only recourse was to burst into tears. Hortense, however, overreached herself, and a flirtation with the Prince of Monaco caused her to be dismissed, to the delight of her rival. National sentiment was against her, and many must have questioned, as Andrew Marvel did:

''That the King should send for another French whore
When one already hath made us so poor.''
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.