Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Margaret Desenfans

Today Sir Mervyn King revealed that Jane Austen is "waiting in the wings" to feature on our next £10 note (CLICK). Why Jane Austen? I was forced to read one of her novels for my "A" Level in English Literature. Boring girlie fiction, high-class Mills & Boon. (I did pass.) Shown is an unsung heroine worthy of banknote fame: Margaret Desenfans painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds. The daughter of a wealthy Welsh entrepreneur, she married the paintings collector and dealer Noël Desenfans in 1776 and used her fortune to bankroll his art collecting. The paintings they bought formed the core of the Dulwich Picture Gallery's Permanent Collection. She also plugged a shortfall of funds to enable architect Sir John Soane to build Britain’s first ever purpose-built public art gallery. What an achievement! The Dulwich Picture Gallery is marking the 200th anniversary of its benefactor's death with the display Margaret Desenfans (1731 – 1813): The Woman behind the Gallery (CLICK). It has borrowed this painting from a private collector for the display.


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