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When Eddie Telford from Ayr found an old painting of a Victorian woman in his loft he had no idea about the story that lay behind the lady in the portrait. For him it was just a nice picture that deserved a more fitting place on the wall.
Curiosity soon got the better of Eddie however and he took the picture into The Hour’s antiques expert Anita Manning, who revealed that the woman in the picture was in fact one of the 18th century’s most famous ‘society girls’.
Like the character Mrs Robinson in the 1967 film The Graduate, this woman was a real life ‘It girl’, stealing the hearts of the countries royalty and art elite. Her striking beauty was captured by a number of prominent artists including George Romney, who painted this particular portrait in the late 1800s.
Speaking about his discovery of the Romney painting, Eddie told The Hour: “I discovered the picture in a loft and found a frame for it. It’s just been sitting on wall for a long time.
“It’s a nice picture and we quite like it. I’m hoping to tap into Anita for a bit more information, and maybe arrive at value for it.”
Recognising the face in the picture, Anita told the story of this particular Mrs Robinson and how she became the ‘tabloid star’ of the 18th century:
“What fascinates me about this picture is the subject matter. We have all heard of Mrs Robinson from the movie The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman; a real notorious character. What we have here is a notorious 18th century character.
“This Mrs Robinson was a great beauty of her day; she was the mistress of royalty and an actress. This picture depicts her in one of her roles.
“She moved in the highest of circles and all the famous painters of the day painted her. It’s a very famous image of a really intriguing woman.”
Unfortunately for antiques hunter Eddie, the fact that this woman was so famous meant that this particular painting was anything but rare. Over a thousand prints were made of this particular image.
Anita added: “This is a Victorian later print; a colour one at that. She inspired people for 200 years and this image proved popular today. There were thousands of these made.”
ANTIQUES WITH ANITA