Attributed to Mrs. James Robertson (née Christina Sanders) (British,, fl.1822-1849)
Marguerite, Countess of Blessington (1789-1849), head and shoulders, her hair curled.
gilt-metal frame with glazed reverse. Oval, 75mm (3in) high
Margaret Power was born near Clonmel, co. Tipperary, Ireland. In 1804 her parents forced her to marry Captain Maurice St Leger Farmer. Three months later Margaret refused to accompany her husband when he was ordered to join his regiment, and returned home. Captain Farmer was killed during a drunken orgy in 1817. In 1807 Margaret moved to Cahir and then in 1809 to Dublin. By now her beauty had become so well known that her portrait was painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence (Wallace Collection, London). It was at this time that she met Charles John Gardiner, 2nd Viscount Mountjoy and 1st Earl of Blessington (17821829). In 1821, at one of her soirées, Lady Blessington met the twenty-year-old Alfred, Count D'Orsay, reputedly the handsomest man of his time. From the date of that meeting until her death Count D'Orsay became closely associated with Lady Blessington. Early in 1822 Lady Blessington published anonymously her first work, The Magic Lantern. Later the same year the Blessingtons started on a continental tour. They settled in Genoa in 1823, where they met Lord Byron, whom they saw daily for approximately two months. From their conversations Lady Blessington gathered material for her most famous book, Journal of Conversations with Lord Byron. The Blessingtons remained in Italy for over five years, settling for the most part in Naples and Florence. It was there that Count D'Orsay married Lord Blessington's daughter Harriet. They moved to Paris towards the end of 1828, where the earl of Blessington died. In November 1830 Marguerite, returned to London, renting a house in Seamore Place, Park Lane. Here she resumed her old social pre-eminence. Her income was restricted to £2000 a year. Besides living expensively, she had many members of her own family dependent on her. In order to supplement her income she returned to writing and contributing articles, verse, and fiction to periodicals and magazines. In 1836 Lady Blessington moved to Gore House, Kensington. Although her writings earned her between £2000 and £3000 a year, she suffered financial problems. In April 1849 to escape their creditors she and Count D'Orsay, whose wife had left him in 1831, fled to Paris. She rented a small apartment in the rue du Cirque, near the Champs Elysées. Not quite two months later, on 4 June 1849, Lady Blessington died.