An antique watercolor portrait of Hanah Tichbon who “went to the races…, “ran away from Sheffets…” and later ran away in London.
Portraits in the late Regency period began to present public identities that also provided insights into the private selves of the sitters. In this instance we have an intriguing story of a life which the miniature portrait holds literally hidden behind the image of the sitter (the written words on the back of the watercolor tell a story very different from the prim and proper image of Hanah Tichbon shown in the picture.
A pencil and watercolor portrait on card presents a young woman in modest attire wearing a gold chain and cross. She wears white and holds a book, quite probably a Bible. The image infers that our sitter is a proper young lady. In reality, her life story was not anything like it appears here.
Written on the back of the painted card is:
“Hanah Tichbon Alias Hanah Honsett born Sept 22nd 1809
Married Thomas Matcham on the 6 of Oct’br 1829 left him at Bath in Aug’st 1831 for six week…
On Aug’st 2nd 1835 went to Brighton races and stayt 6 weeks.
Oct’br 22nd 1837 ran away from Sheffets 8 month away
July 22 1841 ran away in London and was found”
“Signed & painted by Mr. King” and dated “1829”
At this time in England if a woman was unhappy with her situation there was, almost without exception, nothing she could do about it. Except in extremely rare cases, a woman could not obtain a divorce and, until 1891, if she ran away from an intolerable marriage the police could capture and return her, and her husband could imprison her. All this was sanctioned by church, law, custom, history, and approved of by society in general.
H 7 in. x W 6.25 in. x D 1.5 in.
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