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  • Posts Tagged ‘SIR WILLIAM BEECHEY’

    AN IRISH ACTRESS AND MISTRESS TO A FUTURE KING

    Tuesday, June 27th, 2023
    Sir William Beechey, R.A.
    Portrait of Mrs Dorothy Jordan (1761–1816) as Rosalind in Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £22,860

    Sir William Beechey’s famous and much illustrated portrait of the great Irish actress, Dorothy Jordan, mistress of King William IV comes up at Sotheby’s in London next week. She was the mother of ten illegitimate children by him, all of whom took the surname FitzClarence. Its significance was recognised by her bibiographer Claire Tomalin who used the painting on the front cover of her definitive publication on Mrs Jordan in 1994. Born the daughter of Irish and Welsh emigres in London Dorothy Phillips (her unmarried name) started off her professional life on the stage in Dublin. In 1790 she attracted the eye of the young Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence and later William IV, who gave her an annuity of £1,200 and enough provisions for her accompanying family. She was subsequently given the use of Bushy House, a residence of the Duke in Bushy Park, where she became mother of his ten offspring. Rising debts and the search for a society marriage prompted William to call-off the affair, and Jordan was to receive £4,400 in a settlement drawn up shortly after their parting in 1811. Their eldest son George Augustus Frederick FitzClarence, 1st Earl of Munster (1794–1842) would have been King rather than Queen Victoria but for his illegitimacy. The painting is lot 142 at Sotheby’s Old Master and 19th century day auction in London on July 6 with an estimate of £20,000-£30,000.