Mrs. Anne Mee  (British, circa 1770-1851) Harriot Mellon, later Duchess of St Albans (1777-1837), in her role as Mistress Anne Page, wearing white dress with triple-tiered lace collar, her scarlet stole draped about her, a pendant on a long black ribbon cord suspended from her neck, her dark hair upswept in a knot upon her head with ringlets framing her face
Lot 137Y
Mrs. Anne Mee
(British, circa 1770-1851)
Harriot Mellon, later Duchess of St Albans (1777-1837), in her role as Mistress Anne Page, wearing white dress with triple-tiered lace collar, her scarlet stole draped about her, a pendant on a long black ribbon cord suspended from her neck, her dark hair upswept in a knot upon her head with ringlets framing her face
Sold for £1,375 (US$ 2,219) inc. premium

Lot Details
Mrs. Anne Mee (British, circa 1770-1851)
Harriot Mellon, later Duchess of St Albans (1777-1837), in her role as Mistress Anne Page, wearing white dress with triple-tiered lace collar, her scarlet stole draped about her, a pendant on a long black ribbon cord suspended from her neck, her dark hair upswept in a knot upon her head with ringlets framing her face.
Gilt-mounted on rectangular papier-mâché frame.
Oval, 60mm (2 3/8in) high
Provenance: Purchased at Hortons, 16 May 1969; thence by descent.
Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1825, no.676.
Literature: R. Walker Regency Portraits Volume I: Text, p. 434.

Footnotes

  • Upon her death in 1837, Baroness Burdett Coutts inherited the entire residual portion of her step-grandmother's assets (reported to have been worth £1.8 million in the 'Morning Herald') including a portrait of the former actress by John James Masquerier that had been exhibited at the RA in 1804 (R. Walker Regency Portraits Volume I: Text, p. 433). This painting also portrayed the actress as 'Mistress Anne Page', the role she played in Shakespeare's 1602 comedy, 'The Merry Wives of Windsor'.

    During her career on the stage, Mellon played an extensive range of parts in both London and the provincial theatre. As the illegitimate daughter of Sarah Mellon, an Irish wardrobe-keeper in Kena's company of strolling players, it is perhaps inevitable that she became an actress. Mellon's father is said to have been Lieutenant Matthew Mellon of the Madras infantry. Although Mellon never attained the stratospheric heights enjoyed by Dorothea Jordan and Sarah Siddons, she was often praised for her professionalism and good humour. Whilst performing at the Duke Street Theatre, Mellon attracted the attention of the Anglo-Scottish banker, Thomas Coutts (1735-1822). The couple were married following the death of Coutts' first wife in 1815 and upon his own death seven years later, Mellon inherited his vast fortune together with his partnership in Coutts Bank.

    Mellon proved to be an excellent businesswoman and banker, taking an active role in investment and management decisions. She was also extremely generous to Coutts's three daughters, giving them each £10,000 a year although this did nothing to warm them to her.

    Five years after the death of her first husband, Mellon married twenty-six year old William Beauclerk, 9th Duke of St Albans (1801-1849), whom Mrs Mee also portrayed in a rectangular portrait on ivory, sold at Christie's on 16 December 1980 (lot 287). In her Will, Mellon left her second husband £10,000 a year for his lifetime together with Holly Lodge at Highgate and its contents.
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