Ozias Humphry

Elizabeth, Countess of Craven, Later Margravine of Anspach

c.1780–3

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 608 x 507 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Cornelia, Countess of Craven 1965
Reference
T00756

Display caption

Humphrey worked initially as a portrait-miniaturist (see cabinet 2: The Portrait Miniature in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries) but, following his return to England from a visit to Italy in 1777, he transferred some of his energies to oil painting. The aristocratic sitter here, who was an amateur playwright of some repute, abandoned her husband in 1783 to go travelling through Italy, eastern Europe and the near east. She later settled back in England with a German prince, the Margrave of Anspach.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

Ozias Humphry 1742–1810

T00756 Elizabeth, Countess of Craven, Later Margravine of Anspach c. 1780–83

Not inscribed.
Canvas, 23¾ x 19¿ (60.5 x 50.5).
Bequeathed by Cornelia, Countess of Craven 1965.
Coll: presumably by descent from the 6th Earl of Craven.

Acquired as by Francis Cotes but attributed to Ozias Humphry by the National Portrait Gallery, where the painting has now been placed on long loan. The sitter was born in 1750, the youngest daughter of Augustus, 4th Earl of Berkeley. In 1767 she married William Craven, later 6th Earl of Craven. Her first comedy, Somnambule, was printed on Horace Walpole’s private press in 1778 and acted at Newmarket; subsequent plays were performed at the Haymarket and Covent Garden theatres. In 1783 she left her husband, travelled in Italy, Eastern Europe and the Near East, and went to live with the Margrave of Anspach, whom she married after Lord Craven’s death in 1791. The following year the Margrave sold his principality to the King of Prussia and the couple settled in England. The Margravine wrote further plays for performance in the private theatre at their London home, Brandenburg House, Hammersmith, with her own musical accompaniments, and often took part. She published her Memoirs in 1826 and died at Naples in 1828.

Ozias Humphry returned from Italy in 1777, devoting himself largely to oil-paintings rather than the miniatures of his early career. The sitter left Lord Craven in 1783 and looks a bit older than in the Romney portrait of 1778, also in the Tate Gallery (No. 1669). A date towards the end of the period 1777–83 therefore seems most likely.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1965–1966, London 1967.