19th Century Royal mistress and thrice divorced Lady tops Portrait Miniatures sale at Bonhams

Fine Portrait Miniatures
21 Nov 2012
London, Knightsbridge

Jane Digby, Lady Ellenborough portrait is top lot at Fine Portrait Miniatures sale

A miniature portrait of Jane Digby, Lady Ellenborough (1807-1881) by Sir William Charles Ross sold at auction yesterday (21st November) in Knightsbridge for £13,750, over ten times the original estimate of £800-£1,200.

Jane Digby was considered a 'femme fatale' by her peers. Her first marriage to a Governor General of India lasted only six years. They were divorced in 1830 on the grounds that Jane had committed adultery. Jane then became mistress of Germany's Ludwig I of Bavaria (1786-1868) but eventually ended up marrying one of his countrymen in 1833 by whom she had a son. This marriage also ended in divorce following a duel between her husband and a count.

Jane then re-married again, whilst also becoming a Royal mistress to King Otto of Greece (1815-1867), which inevitably resulted in the third breakdown of a marriage. She eventually fell in love with Sheik Abdul Medjuel el Mezrab at the age of 46, when he was 20 years her junior, and she married him in 1854. She converted to Islam, adopted Arab culture and enjoyed a happy marriage lasting until her death in Syria in 1881.

Robert Thorburn's portrait of the Duke of Wellington also exceeded its estimate selling for £5,625 and George Chimney's portrait of Captain and Lieutenant-Colonol Stephen Peacocke Sr. took second place selling for £9,375.


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