"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Henrietta Marchant Liston

This 1800 portrait of Henrietta Marchant Liston (Mrs. Robert Liston) by Gilbert Stuart hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington,  DC. Richard Simmons says this of Henrietta:
"{Sir Robert} Liston's chief diplomatic asset was his wife; Henrietta was affable, adventurous, and a good hostess. She kept a travel journal in which she discussed people and events with zest, though she mostly described the natural scenery, never hinting that they were spying, nor speaking of negotiations with the Indians. In letters to her uncle in Glasgow she described the complex diplomatic society of Philadelphia. She was informed, shrewd, diplomatic, and loyal; she stressed that the British mission was to counter the actions of the French led by the 'cloven footed devil', Talleyrand; and she tried to make friends with the Americans at all times. Yet she was critical of President and Mrs Washington in small ways, perhaps because of her loyalty to Britain. Henrietta's reward was a visit to Antigua in 1800 and the promise of an American garden at their Edinburgh home, a memorial to their dangerous, and difficult mission, conducted with skill and some distinction."  -- The Liston Papers, Richard Simmons.

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