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  • Jane Digby's portrait miniature sells for $22,000 at Bonhams
  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • Digby'sJaneminiatureportrait

Jane Digby's portrait miniature sells for $22,000 at Bonhams

Jane Digby, Lady Ellenborough (1807-1881) was not without admirers during her lifetime, and at a Bonhams sale held on November 21 she proved that she is still a hit. Her miniature portrait selling for more than 10 times its £1,200 ($1,911) high estimate, achieving £13,750 ($21,908).

Jane Digby's minature portrait Bonhams
The 19th century royal mistress topped the sale at Bonhams

The miniature portrait, painted by the British artist Sir William Charles Ross, depicts Jane in an India green dress with amber and green shoulder rolls, her jewelled sleeves slashed and her neckline edged with ivory lace.

The artist's use of colour as well as the addition of an elaborate necklace heavy with emeralds, sapphires and pearls were intended to be suggestive of Jane's appreciation for Eastern cultures and exoticism - a very fashionable attitude during the 1800s, when Britain's economic influence was extending eastwards and exotic goods began to flood into the market for the first time.

Having divorced her first husband, a governor general of India, after just six years, Jane began to acquire a reputation as something of a seductress.

Her colourful biography is punctuated by a succession of glamorous lovers, including King Otto of Greece and, the man thought to be the love of her life, Sheik Abdul Medjuel el Mezrab who was 20 years her junior.

The oval miniature portrait, which sold to an unknown buyer, sits inside a gilt-metal frame with ormolu slip, set within a red leather travelling case which is lined with red velvet.

Another miniature painted by Ross and featuring Lady Augusta Margaret Fitzclarence sold for £6,000 ($9,559) at Bonhams in 2002. We believe the enlarged value of Jane Digby's portrait has much to do with the woman herself.

For more information on investing in art, view our free guide.


  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • Digby'sJaneminiatureportrait