Thursday, January 5, 2012

Princess Marie Louise again

This rather beautiful drawing by Dame Laura Knight is coming up for sale late this month at Lawrences in Dorset, for next to no money. It shows Princess Marie Louise as a rather wistful old lady, having just completed her very engaging volume of memoirs, My Memories of Six Reigns. The lot contains two further drawings by Knight, showing the hands of the sitter and sheets of writing (“To all those whose friendship and affection have made my long life so full of interest and happiness―Marie Louise; I have told you that my religion and faith have been the anchor to which I have clung all through my life with its many joys and sorrows. There is no other anchor, and with that assurance I say ‘Farewell’―Marie Louise.” The drawings and manuscript were apparently acquired by the vendor’s mother from Princess Marie Louise’s last Lady-in-Waiting. According to the catalogue notes, the Princess died at her home off Berkeley Square on December 8, 1956, aged 84, only a matter of months after Dame Laura executed this portrait. The ones of her hands formed the frontispiece and endpapers of the Princess’s book, which was published earlier in the same year, so the group carries more than a hint of valedictory repose, or, as Lawrences rightly put it, “an unusual farewell to the nation” by one of Queen Victoria’s last surviving granddaughters.

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