My favourite museum in London is the National Portrait Gallery.
I never tire of exploring the galleries of faces, however many times I visit; many images are familiar friends but there is always something new and interesting.
Yesterday MissM and I had tickets to the Vanity Fair exhibition and while we were waiting for our time slot we explored the smaller display of portraits of the Bluestocking Circle. These remarkable women contributed to the lively intellectual society in London in the late eighteenth century.
Hannah More 1745 - 1833 by Frances Reynolds 1780
I was fascinated by the comment beside this portrait:
The Dramatist and Writer, Hannah More, never fully reconciled her creative talents and her feelings about fame with the restrictive codes of female propriety. Her desire for a respectable professional identity can be seen in this portrait by her friend and fellow Bluestocking, Frances Reynolds, Sir Joshua's sister.
With no female tradition on which to draw Frances Reynolds adapted the pose and costume from the way that 'men of letters' were often depicted. Like Hannah More, such men were shown in a dishevelled state of 'undress' when absorbed in their work and away from polite company, making this Britain's first portrait of
a 'woman of letters'
We are all writers in Blogland
and we struggle in various ways
to reconcile our lives with our writing.
I look at this portrait of Hannah More
and I wonder if it merely mimics male portraits
or whether it shows that she, like me,
had to get up and write in the early morning
before anyone else was awake.