Margaret Cavendish Bentick, (nee Lady Cavendish Harley) Duchess of Portland (1715-1785)
Margaret Cavendish Bentick, (nee Lady Cavendish Harley) Duchess of Portland (1715-1785)
Margaret Cavendish Bentick, (nee Lady Cavendish Harley) Duchess of Portland (1715-1785)


Margaret Cavendish Bentick, (nee Lady Cavendish Harley) Duchess of Portland (1715-1785)

c. 1735 Britain

Offered by Ellison Fine Art


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Margaret Cavendish Bentick, (nee Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley), Duchess of Portland (1715-1785) in white dress and pink shawl
enamel, gilt-metal frame, the reverse engraved M. Harley/D ees of Portland
Lady Margaret was the only daughter and heiress of the 2nd Earl of Oxford. She was celebrated by Prior as "My Noble, lovely, little Peggy" and was a passionate collector of paintings, prints, drawings, jewels, coins, medals, snuff-boxes and specimens of natural history. Her most famous acquisition being the Barberini, or Portland Vase, which was and remains ‘an outstanding example of ancient Roman glass using the cameo technique’ (Stourton), made up of several layers of coloured glass which were then cut and decorated, in this case to show six figures in two mythological scenes. The vase probably dates from the early first century AD. The duchess paid £2000 for the vase and three other items; sold at her death, it was bought back by the third duke for £1029. The vase was loaned in 1810 to the British Museum, where it remains.
In 1734, she married William, 2nd Duke of Portland and had six children. The couple settled at Bulstrode, near Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire, where the duchess paid special attention to the gardens. For the next fifty years she devoted her time and energy, and much of her wealth, to the formation of an immense collection embracing natural history, in its broadest sense, and the fine arts, stored at Bulstrode. It was, eventually, the largest in Britain, and possibly in Europe, exceeding that of Sir Hans Sloane deposited in the British Museum, Many scholars, philosophers, scientists and even Royalty, visited the musuyem and the collection became a cause celebre. Horace Walpole commented on it,
"Few men have rivalled Margaret Cavendish in the mania of collecting, and perhaps no woman. In an age of great collectors she rivalled the greatest."
The Duchess was also a member of the Blue Stockings Society, which was a group of aristocratic Énlightenment women' trying to obtain intellectual independence in a form that would be acceptable within the period's social norms, by patronising and promoting education and the arts
Height 48.00 mm (1.89 inches)
Stock Code
enamel on copper
Ellison Fine Art

Ellison Fine Art
United Kingdom

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