March 24 1734 - August 1808
G.H. Every after Sir Joshua Reynolds, Portrait of Lady Diana Beauclerk, 1866. Mezzotint. 9 x 7 inches (23 x 18 cm). Published by Henry Graves. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London, England. (c) National Portrait Gallery, London. www.npg.org.uk
Place of Birth:
British – English
LAY-dee (d-eye)-AN-ah boh-klerrk
Drawings and prints, Painting, Sculpture
Designer, Engraver, Etcher, Illustrator, Painter, Pastelist, Portraitist, Sculptor, Sketcher, Watercolorist
Celebrated amateur artist Lady Diana Beauclerk was the elder daughter of Charles Spencer, third Duke of Marlborough. In 1761, she was named Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Charlotte and often mingled with many eminent literary and artistic figures including politician and writer Horace Walpole, and painter Sir Joshua Reynolds. Because she was a woman, she received limited artistic training and was relegated mostly to pastel portraits and small-scale drawings and paintings. Despite these barriers, Beauclerk still pursued a career as a professional artist.
Unfortunately, her scandalous personal life often takes precedence over her artistic career. Her disastrous marriages to Frederick, Viscount Bolingbroke ended in divorce, and within two days she married Topham Beauclerk. Her spendthrift husband and multiple children were constantly a financial burden, and both Beauclerk and her children’s names constantly appeared in the gossip sheets and cartoons.
Beauclerk’s subjects usually included cupids, rustic landscapes, and children in a Rubenesque, Rococo style. Using watercolors, brown and grey washes, and pastels, Beauclerk painted scenes of elegant ladies, young nobleman, and playful children going about their daily activities in lush gardens, luxuriant interiors, and romantic pastoral landscapes. She executed seven drawings for Walpole’s The Mysterious Mother
, and illustrated Gottfried August Bürger’s Leonora
, 1796, and John Dryden’s Fables
, 1797. Beauclerk also designed innovative decor for pottery manufacturer Josiah Wedgewood and decorated several rooms in a rich yet sophisticated style.
Lady-in-Waiting to Charlotte, Queen of England, Court of George III, London, England (1761)