Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Anne Maria Hunt and her puffed sleeves

'The earliest instance I can find of a puffed sleeve is in the portrait of Princess Augusta by Sir W Beechey 1802. Until 1800 sleeves are straight and tight."

Madeleine Ginsberg, Senior Research Assistance (Costume) Department of Textiles, Victoria and Albert Museum, in a letter to John Kerslake at the National Portrait Museum dated 14 January 1975.

Madeleine Ginsberg presumably was unaware of this well known portrait by George Romney of Anna Maria Hunt. As I've said before, we now have the benefit of the internet, which was not available to experts in years gone by.

Anna Maria Hunt sat seven times for Romney at his studio during 1792 and he completed the portrait over the next two years.

The portrait is owned by the National Trust and is at Lanhydrock House, near Lostwithiel in

Mistakes happen of course, but how much more evidence needs to be provided before the V&A, the Courtauld Institute of Art and/or the National Portrait Gallery concede that the experts were mistaken to date the dress in the Rice Portrait to c1805?

Are any of them prepared to announce that the dress could date to the late eighteenth century? If not then this begs the question - why are they so resistant?

*update 20/08/2016

There is no doubt whatsoever about the dating of this portrait as Romney himself records the dates he painted it. The portrait was commissioned by Anna Maria Hunt's uncle and delivered to his home at Seymour Place, London on 20 June 1793.

Ellie Bennett