Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of Louise Renée de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth and Aubigny (1649-1734), circa 1684 

Mrs Susan Penelope Rosse (b.c.1655-1700)

Portrait miniature of Louise Renée de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth and Aubigny (1649-1734), circa 1684, Mrs Susan Penelope Rosse
Watercolour on vellum
17th Century
Oval, 3 inches (76mm) high
Private Collection
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The daughter of the miniature painter Richard Gibson, Rosse is best known for her copies of the works of her neighbour, Samuel Cooper (see cats.?and?), praised by George Vertue ‘as by these may bee seen; nobody ever copy’d him better’ (Vertue I, p.116). A talented artist, she did not need to work for a living, but produced portraits of family and friends which serve as an intimate record of her life. Many of her connections to artists and sitters came through her parents, who were famous at court not only for their artistic talents but also for their small stature.
This miniature of the Duchess of Portsmouth, mistress of King Charles II, is based on the 1682 oil portrait by Pierre Mignard [National Portrait Gallery no.497]. Rosse painted other versions of this portrait, of which a smaller, finished version is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (P.21-1955). A miniature of the present sitter by the same artist is included in D. Foskett, A Dictionary of British Miniature Painters, London, 1972, II, p. 88, illustrated no. 774, pl. 310 and also in D. Foskett's exhibition catalogue, Samuel Cooper and his contemporaries, London, National Portrait Gallery, 1974, no. 192, illustrated p. 101. The unfinished, sketchy nature of this miniature and the ochre-brown background are typical hallmarks of her work. The size of this miniature relates closely to those in her personal pocket book [Victoria and Albert Museum], which are larger than those framed miniatures which represent possible commissions.
Louise Renée de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth and Aubigny (1649-1734) was popularly known in England as ‘Madam Carwell’. She first worked in the household of the King’s sister, Henrietta Anne Stuart, Duchess of Orléans. In 1670 she accompanied the Duchess of Orléans on a visit to see her brother, Charles II, at Dover. Shortly after the sudden and suspicious death of the duchess, Louise de Kérouaille was appointed lady-in-waiting to the queen of England, Catherine of Braganza. During this appointment she became mistress to Charles II and in 1672 bore him a son, Charles, who became the Duke of Richmond in 1675. She was not popular in England, but received the full support of the French envoy on the understanding that she should serve the interests of her native sovereign and develop England's relations with France. After the death of Charles II she returned to her estates in France.
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