The painting and its partner, An Old Man, are parodic portraits that mock the supposed lust and vanity of older women. Yet a closer look also reveals a figure defiantly flouting conventions and a painter subverting artistic expectations.
The publication traces the eventful afterlife and enduring power of this seminal image: how she gained her nickname ‘The Ugly Duchess’ and inspired John Tenniel’s much-loved illustrations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), capturing the imagination of generations of readers.
Published by National Gallery Global/Distributed by Yale University Press
National Gallery, London, 16 March–11 June 2023