Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

Cinderella at World of Royalty posts two trailers of the film The Duchess, to be released in September. The more recent one rather shamelessly attempts to exploit the enduring popularity of Princess Diana by drawing a parallel between her and the Duchess of Devonshire, née Lady Georgiana Spencer (the two women were indeed related.)

Both trailers seem to focus on the Duchess’s marital troubles and her notorious ménage à trois with the Duke and her friend Lady Elizabeth Foster. Georgiana’s involvement in politics, and her considerable influence in that regard, do not seem to be mentioned. She was also a writer and a beloved public figure. I hope the film does justice to these aspects of her life.

Gainsborough Georgiana DevonshireAnd what do you think of Keira Knightley in the title role? Does she resemble the real Duchess, painted here by Gainsborough?

The famous painter Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun met the Duchess in 1802, and describes her in her remarkable Memoirs, available online in English translation. Georgiana was then middle-aged and in failing health (she would die four years later.)

Here goes Madame Lebrun:

The most fashionable woman in London at this time was the Duchess of Devonshire. I had often heard of her beauty and her influence in politics, and when I called upon her she greeted me in the most affable style. She might then have been about forty-five years old. Her features were very regular, but I was not struck by her beauty. Her complexion was too high, and ill-fortune had ordained that one of her eyes should be blind. As at this period the hair was worn over the forehead, she concealed the eye under a bunch of curls, but that was insufficient to hide such a serious defect. The Duchess of Devonshire was of fair size, her degree of stoutness being exactly appropriate to her age, and her unconstrained manner became her exceedingly well.

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