Sir William Charles Ross (British, 1794-1860) Jane Digby, Lady Ellenborough (1807-1881), seated before an aperture and hanging drapery, wearing India green dress with amber and green shoulder rolls, her jewelled sleeves slashed to reveal amber, her neckline edged with white lace, teal underdress, a burnt orange, teal and sea green stole pinned at her left shoulder with a pearl brooch, saffron jewelled sash, sapphire and emerald pendant necklace, her blonde hair partially curled and upswept, dressed with strands of pearls (cracked)
Lot 116Y
Sir William Charles Ross
(British, 1794-1860)
Jane Digby, Lady Ellenborough (1807-1881), seated before an aperture and hanging drapery, wearing India green dress with amber and green shoulder rolls, her jewelled sleeves slashed to reveal amber, her neckline edged with white lace, teal underdress, a burnt orange, teal and sea green stole pinned at her left shoulder with a pearl brooch, saffron jewelled sash, sapphire and emerald pendant necklace, her blonde hair partially curled and upswept, dressed with strands of pearls (cracked)
Sold for £13,750 (US$ 22,815) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Sir William Charles Ross (British, 1794-1860)
Jane Digby, Lady Ellenborough (1807-1881), seated before an aperture and hanging drapery, wearing India green dress with amber and green shoulder rolls, her jewelled sleeves slashed to reveal amber, her neckline edged with white lace, teal underdress, a burnt orange, teal and sea green stole pinned at her left shoulder with a pearl brooch, saffron jewelled sash, sapphire and emerald pendant necklace, her blonde hair partially curled and upswept, dressed with strands of pearls (cracked).
Rectangular gilt-metal frame with ormolu slip, set within red leather travelling case lined with red velvet.
Oval, 164mm (6 7/16in) high

Footnotes

  • Considered a 'femme fatale' by her contemporaries and through the lens of history, Jane's colourful biography is punctuated by a succession of glamorous lovers, a series of failed marriages and a deep-rooted appreciation for Continental European and Middle Eastern cultures alike, revealing her to be very much an ancestor of the New Woman of the 1890s.

    Born at Minterne Magna, the only daughter of Trafalgar hero Admiral Henry Digby (1770-1842) and Lady Jane Elizabeth Coke (d.1863), Jane was brought up well-versed in the spectrum of accomplishments her position demanded and with all the privileges it entitled her to. At 23, she married Edward Law, 1st Earl of Ellenborough, later Govenor General of India, and 11 years her senior. The union, however, was not to be a happy one and was terminated just six years after it had begun - somewhat to the delight of the gossip columns' readership - on the grounds that Jane had committed adultery with an Austrian diplomat. These allegations were almost certainly true since Jane went on to have one surviving child with Felix Schwarzenberg, Mathilde (b.1829), though she had minimal involvement in her daughter's upbringing.

    Having moved to Germany in response to the breakdown of her marriage, Jane became the mistress of Ludwig I of Bavaria (1786-1868) though she went on to wed his countryman Baron Karl von Venningen, entering into what would become a decidedly platonic partnership. Indeed, although Jane's marriage to von Venningen was a brief affair, ending in divorce following a duel between her husband and Count Spyridon Theotokis, von Venningen and Jane remained lifelong friends. Once her marriage to von Venningen had been amicably dissolved, Jane promptly remarried Theotokis and set up residence with her new husband in his homeland of Greece. It was during this time that Jane became a royal mistress for the second time, entering into a clandestine relationship with King Othon (1815-1867). Following her dalliance with the Greek ruler and the inevitable culmination of her marriage, Jane entered into an affair with Hristodoulos Hadzipetros, a General of the Greek Revolution, and followed the drum until he proved unfaithful.

    Finally, at the age of 46, Jane found a constant love with Sheik Abdul Medjuel el Mezrab of modern-day Syria. Her relationship with the Sheik, who was twenty years her junior, saw Jane convert to Islam, adopt the Arab culture and learn Arabic. Jane died of dysentry in 1881 and is buried in Damascus.
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