Portrait miniature of Frederick St.John 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke by John Smart, 1773
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A miniature of Frederick St.John, 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke (1732-1787) by John Smart (signed with his initials and dated) . Known for his expensive taste in clothes, Frederick is seen wearing a gold embroidered waistcoat, stock and with his hair powdered.
The inscription on the reverse of the frame records that the miniature was 'given by the widow of Charles James Fox to Mrs St.John'. We do not know which Mrs St.John was referred to but the widow was the former society courtesan Elizabeth Armistead.
Frederick was known for his affairs with celebrated courtesans and he was so enamoured of Elizabeth that he took her out of the brothel in which she worked and established her as his mistress. Elizabeth went on to have a large number of rich clients before her marriage to Frederick's old chum, the statesman Charles Fox. It seems she retained an affection for her former beau, returning this keepsake to the St.John family, presumably after Frederick's death.
The miniature was one of a group of seven, framed together, which were sold by Kenneth St.John 7th Viscount Bolingbroke at Sotheby's on 28th February 1991. Lydiard House acquired five of the miniatures with grant assistance from the Museums and Galleries Commission V & A Purchase Grant Fund.
- John Smart (1741-1811)
- Lydiard House
- Swindon Borough Council
- LYD 1993- 437b
- Lydiard House
- T. Cooper-Tydeman
- Last updated on:
- Thursday 10th February 2022