Saturday, August 26, 2006

This pastel of my great-great grandmother Adelaide Kemble is posted by kind permission of the curator, Welbeck Abbey. The Duke of Portland is said to have proposed to her in December 1842, when she was already married to Edward Sartoris. But that didn't stop him from commissioning over 30 further pastels by John Hayter of Adelaide in various operatic roles including Norma and La Sonnambula,plus an enormous painting by Grant of her as Seniramis. Anna Jameson wrote detailed notes which have yet to be transcribed, on each of the scenes. But there are no letters between the Duke and Adelaide or the artists that we are aware of. Anna Jameson published several works, but if she had mentioned the Duke's infatuation in any of them, we would surely have known about it. Sne was an inveterate gossip and tole everybody about Adelaide's romance with Francis Thun

Adelaide left the stage immediately after her marriage, and her first child Greville was born in 1843, so there is a mystery as to whether she actually sat for Hayter, dressed up for the parts, when she was pregnant or dealing with a small baby. I think he must have executed all the portraits in 1842, because they are all scenes from the operas she did in her final season at Covent Garden.

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