This portrait shows General Sir James MacDonell (1778–1857), younger brother of the 15th Chief of Glengarry. At one time he was known as ‘The Bravest Man in the British Army’ for the part he played in the defence of Hougoumont in 1815, a strategic location close to the site of the Battle of Waterloo.
Throughout his career he was the recipient of many military honours including the Knight Commander and Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, as well as the decorations of Maria Theresa of Austria and St Vladimir of Russia. Sir James chose to have his portrait painted by Sir Henry Raeburn, as did his two brothers.
The portrait of his elder brother, Alasdair Ranaldson MacDonell is in the collections of the National Gallery of Scotland, while that of his younger brother, Admiral Somerled MacDonell is held in a private collection.
Les harpistes aka Les Mademoiselles d’Orléans. Jean-Antoine-Théodore Giroust (French, 1753-1817). Oil on canvas.
The girl, age 14, playing the harp is Louise Marie Adélaide Eugènie d’Orléans, the daughter of the Duc d’Orléans. She wears the Phrygian hat, a symbol of the French revolution. The harp teacher is Madame de Genlis, celbrated harpist, writer, educator and governess. Turning the pages is la belle Pamela, Madame de Genlis’ adopted (or possibly actual) daughter.
The sculptor Paul Lemoyne by Jean August Dominique Ingres. What a handsome beast!
Maurice-Quentin de La Tour 1704-1788, Master of the self portrait. de La Tour worked primarily in soft pastel, pure pigments mixed with a binder such as gum Arabic and dried to create a ‘crayon’. Works in pastel became increasingly popular throughout the 18th century due to their vibrant colours and the light refracting quality of the pigments. De La Tour amassed a fortune ‘painting’ the Paris elite and the French court, founding an art school and several charitable institutions. In 1773 he suffered what may have been a mental breakdown, late in his life he suffered further mental illness and was confined to his home.
His portraits are remarkable for their vivacity and strength of character. He once said “I penetrate into the depths of my subjects without their knowing it, and capture them whole”
Who ever said that 18th century portraits were pompous and dull!
Portrait of a Young Italian Nobleman, circa 1700-1710, Giuseppe Ghislandi (Italian, 1655-1743)
I love the private and personal nature of this portrait. The young gentleman wears a comfortable dressing gown or banyan and cap. His scalp, shaved for comfort when wearing a wig is just visible under the cap.
Captain Charles Morris, gambler, drunkard and composer of patriotic and bawdy songs was a favoured member of the circles of George IV, the duke of Norfolk and also Fox. For his antics he was paid an annuity of £200 by the prince of Wales later George IV.
The captain is often portrayed as a disheveled and ruddy faced figure in late 18th and early 19th century prints depicting high society debauchery and drunken antics. He is portrayed on the left of Gillray’s ‘Homer singing his verses to the Greeks’ being encouraged by Sheridan and Fox to entertain them with one of his scandalously filthy songs, the most famous (and filthy) of which was ‘the great plenipotentiary’, written in the 1780’s in celebration of the Algerian Ambassadors supposedly enormous penis. Such was the songs popularity that it is referred to in prints well into the 1810’s.
If you are of a delicate disposition I would suggest that you stop reading here!
The Dey of Algiers, when afraid of his ears,
A messenger sent to the Court, sir,
As he knew in our state the women had weight,
He chose one well hung for the sport, sir.
He searched the Divan till he found out a man,
Whose bollocks were heavy and hairy,
And he lately came, o’er from the Barbary shore,
As the great Plenipotentiary.
When to England he came, with his torch all aflame,
He showed it his hostess on landing,
Who spread its renown thru all parts of the town,
As a pintle past all understanding.
So much there was said of its snout and its head,
That they called it the great Janissary,
Not a lady could sleep till she got a sly peep,
At the great Plenipotentiary.
As he rode in the coach, how the whores did approach,
Arid stared as if stretched on a tenter;
He drew every eye of the dairies who passed by,
Like the sun to its wonderful center,”
As he passed thru the town, not a window was down,
And the maids hurried out to the area,
The children cried—Look ! there’s the man with the
That’s the great Plenipotentiary.
When he came to the Court, oh, what giggle and sport,
Such squinting and squeezing to view him,
What envy and spleen in the women were seen,
AH happy and pleased to get at him.
They vowed from their hearts, if men of such parts,
Were found on the coast of Barbary,
Tis a shame not to bring a whole guard for the King,
Like the great Plenipotentiary.
The dames of intrigue formed themselves in a league*
To take him in turns like good folk, sir”;
The young misses’ plan was to catch as catch can,
And all were resolved on a stroke, sir.
The cards to invite flew by thousands each night,
With bribes to the old secretary,
And the famous Eclipse was not let for more leaps,
Than the great Plenipotentiary.
When his name was announced, how the women all
And their’blood hurried up to their faces ;
He made them all itch from navel to breech,
And their bubbies burst out from their laces.
There was such damned work to be Fucked by the Turk,
That nothing their passion could vary,
All the ladies fell sick for the Barbary prick,
Of the graat Plenipotentiary.
A duchess whose duke made her ready to puke,
With fumbling and frigging all night, sir,
Being first for the prize, was so pleased with its size,
That she begged for to stroke its big snout, sir.
My stars !—cried her grace—its head’s like a mace,
Tis as high as the Corsican fairy,
I’ll make up, please the pigs, for dry-bobs and frigs,
With the great Plenipotentiary.
And now to be bored with this Ottoman Lord,
Came a virgin far gone on the wane, sir;
She resolved for to try, though her cunt was so dry,
That she knew it must split-like a cane, sir.
True it was as she spoke, it gave way it each stroke,
But oh, what a woeful quandary„
With one terrible thrust, her old bladder burst,
On the great Plenipotentiary.
The next for a ride was an alderman’s bride,
With a gap that would swallow a turtle,
She had horned the dull brows of her lawful spouse
Till they sprouted’like Venus’s myrtle.
Thru thick and thru thin, bowel-deep he dashed in,
Till they both frothed like cream in a dairy,
Then she told by loud farts, she was strained in all parts
By the great Plenipotentiary.
The next to be kissed on the Plenipo’s list,
Was a delicate maiden of honor;
She screamed at the sight of his prick, in a fright,
Though she’d had the whole palace upon her.
O Lord—she said—what a gift for a maid !
Do, pray, come and look at it, Cary !
But I’ll have one drive, though I’m- ripped up alive,
With this great Plenipotentiary.
Two sisters next came, Peg and Molly by name,
Two ladies of very high breeding,
Resolved one should try while the other stood by,
And watch the amusing proceeding.
Peg swore by the gods that the musseJman’s cods,
Were as big as both buttocks of Mary ;
Mary, cried with a grunt—He has ruined my cuntp>
With his great Plenipotentiary.
The next for this plan was an old harridan,
Who had swallowed huge stocks from each nation ;
With overmuch use she had broken the sluice
Twixt her — and its lower relation,
tut he stuck her so full, that she roared like a bull,
Crying out she was bursting and weary,
So tight was she stuck with this wonderful fuck
Of the great Plenipotentiary.
All heads were bewitched and longed to be stitched,
Even babies would languish and linger,
And the boarding-school Miss, as she sat down to piss,
Drew a Turk on the floor with her finger.
. For fancied delight, they all clubbed one night,
To frig in the school necessary,
And the teachers from France fucked a la distance,
With the great Plenipotentiary.
Then of love’s sweet reward, measured out by the yard,
The Turk was most blest of mankind, sir;
For his powerful dart went right home to the heart,
Whether stuck in before or behind, sir.
But no pencil can draw this great-pintled bashaw,
Then let each loving contemporary,
As a cock of the game, now drink to the name,
Of the great Plenipotentiary.
Sir David Wilkie
Sir David Wilkie, 1785 - 1841. Artist (Self-portrait)
about 1804 - 1805
Wilkie was born in the village of Pitlessie in the parish of Cults, Fife. Here, he gazes straight out at the viewer, just as he would into the mirror to paint this striking self-portrait, made when he was twenty. He had by this time demonstrated his remarkable ability to portray contemporary events and with this work confirmed his skills as an accomplished portrait painter. Wilkie grips a portfolio in one hand and his pencil holder in the other. His fashionably tousled reddish hair and brown jacket stand out subtly from the similarly toned background. He may have painted the work just before his move from Edinburgh to London in 1805.
Sir William Allan
The Celebration of the Birthday of James Hogg, 1770 - 1835
1823 or 1825
This scene shows a group of friends celebrating the birthday of James Hogg, the writer nicknamed ‘the Ettrick Shepherd’. The gathering includes the artistic and literary elite of Scottish society. John Wilson (Christopher North), the author and moral philosoher, raises a toast to Hogg, who is swaying back on his chair at the left of the group. Next to Hogg, leaning on the table, is Sir Walter Scott. The setting is Hogg’s house at Eltrive, and includes some beautifully observed details of a domestic interior in the early nineteenth century.
Three Heads: The Witches of Macbeth
about 1767 - 1768
In 1767 John Runciman and his brother Alexander travelled to Rome. There they joined an international group of artists associated with Henri Fuseli (1741–1825). Many of the artists in this circle were interested in dramatic, fantastic subjects that afforded them a new freedom in their work. Subjects stemmed from poetry, literature, and particularly the theatrical works of Shakespeare. John was an accomplished draughtsman and etcher, and in Rome his work became more vibrant and expressive in style. In this rapidly executed sketch, the brown wash on the paper is highlighted with light gouache, giving the figures an eerie and supernatural appearance. Previously catalogued as ‘Three Satyrs’, it is now believed that they are the three witches from Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’.