A Model for Reynolds and Wharton

December 18, 2012

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Beauty is omnipotent. Beauty, striking or delicate (or both), lissom and cunning and sinuous in the conquering of hearts, is thus quite a stimulus for the visual senses whose function, when by its appearance employed, seems to reduce itself to that of a mere messenger of titillations. Beauty is that which can impress the most obtuse perceptiveness and with these being said, I should conclude my introductory definition, sliding to the subject: Joanna Lloyd, picture above. (Between brackets, pure serendipity lead me to her as,though of yore acquainted with Joshua Reynold’s aristocratic portraits depicting haughty dames and gents of the London Season scene,it was not until I read the “House of mirth” that I met his beauteous Mrs. Lloyd. And ironically enough, I wouldn’t have ever saw the lady in question if it weren’t for Wharton’s laudatory description within the novel…)

Now, she might not be considered exactly a stunner after today’s standards but the woman undoubtedly had a gorgeous profile and overall a certain charm about her gracious self. She’s highly refined.

Needless to add I, hunter of all things beautiful, just had to comply with my impulse and dig up her life. Surely I couldn’t refrain  making use of such fine a serendipitous ‘discovery’ . Plus, don’t you have a greater experience of a thing’s immortalized  fairness once you learn, explicitly, there was blood flowing under that epidermis?I tend to think people are getting too impersonal (from reasons I won’t take time enumerating) and the sort of insertion into one’s life I’m proposing could bring back some warm, colorful interest. Canvas is one enduring substitute of flesh, how about this?

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Anyway, returning to the topic, the following are the disappointingly few facts I managed to gather (believe it or not, if you haven’t heard of Joanna Lloyd, Google almost hasn’t either):

-she was the third daughter and coheir of John Leigh Esq. of Northcote House, Isle of Wight…

-who married, at a thin age, a Richard Bennett Lloyd from an important American family…

-moving together on the other side of the Ocean, in Maryland (there’s actually a Maryland Historical Magazine which gives a plentiful account of her life there yet cannot be found online).

-shortly before embarking for the U.S. (1775-6), she had her portrait painted by the fashionable Reynolds, who allegedly praised her attractiveness (also much appreciated, albeit not without scorn, at the Lloyds’ new home). This is the exquisite work Wharton’s character in the “House of mirth” replicates.

-the spring of the 1788’s saw her widowed and promptly remarried to a handsome  Francis Love Beckford (1764-1838), (announced by the 3rd edition of “New Lady’s Magazine  or Polite and Entertaining Companion for the fair sex”).

-naturally, she returned to British soil and from this part any information reminiscent of her earthly life passed out of my reach.

The Reynolds remains, though. Does it intrigue you as it appears to intrigue me? Why yes, why no?

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