De Beer Eb 1791 R
London: Printed by J. Bell
This 1791 edition of Mary Robinson’s Poems carries a pencil note on the front endpapers, and hints at the fate of many such frontispieces through the actions of a number of print collectors: ‘This book has become very scarce. So many having been broken up for the portrait. The portrait sells for £1. 15/- alone.’ It is a striking soft-toned frontispiece, depicting Robinson’s obvious beauty, despite the fact that when it was painted, about 1783, she had just suffered partial paralysis. The painter was her friend Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), who was at the height of his popularity as a painter, especially of portraits. While Thomas Burke (1749-1815), the Irish-born engraver, worked his own magic on it, it was surely Reynold’s reputation that generated the demand for the image.
Mary Robinson, “Poems,” ourheritage.ac.nz | OUR Heritage, accessed January 28, 2023, https://otago.ourheritage.ac.nz/items/show/10697.