Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of a Lady wearing a Turban 

Anne Mee (née Foldsone) (c.1770/75-1851)

Portrait of a Lady wearing a Turban, Anne Mee (née Foldsone)
Watercolour on ivory
19th Century
3 1/2 inches (9cm) high
Private Collection
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Anne Foldsone had an early introduction to painting through her father, John Foldsone, a London-based portrait painter. She began to paint herself at around the age of twelve and was a pupil of the portrait painter George Romney. She soon became the sole support of her mother and eight brothers and sisters. Her role as a professional portrait painter exposed her inevitably to comment about her character and sex. For example, the poet William Hayley described her as a 'young female genius in miniature' and 'a pretty, modest and sensible girl'. Horace Walpole, the ageing diarist, however called her 'a prodigy of dishonest impertinence'.
Anne Foldsone was introduced to Queen Charlotte and with her sister she was placed to board with a Madame de Lafitte who lived in a house in the cloisters at Windsor. One of Madame de Lafitte's duties was to read German with the princesses, and she was often accompanied by Anne Foldsone who would paint miniatures of the Queen and her daughters. Anne Foldsone married Joseph Mee in 1793 and thereafter was generally known simply as 'Mrs Mee'. It is recorded that her husband would only consent to let her paint 'Ladies Only' and they were not to be accompanied into the painting room by gentlemen. In 1814 Mrs Mee completed an important commission for George IV to paint a series of large miniature portraits of fashionable ladies - these were engraved as 'The Gallery of Beauties of the Court of…George the Third', a reference to other series of court beauties painted in the seventeenth and early 18th centuries. Mrs Mee died in Hammersmith in 1851.
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