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Nell Gwynn

Nell Gwynn, The Hungry Harlot 1756. The Bute Archive Mount Stuart

Nell Gwynn, the Hungary Harlot. Was the mistress of King Charles II, Nell Gwynn born Eleanor Gwyn. 2 February 1650, she was also one of the first British actresses.

This piece of political satire is in the form of a coded letter. This picture puzzle code is called a rebus, it has pictures in the place of certain words and is a good way to disguise vitriol and slander as it requires the reader to fill in the blanks. It is difficult to piece together but here goes…

‘ m(adam) w(ass) (eve)r such a f(??)se ..(?). as (U) (R) the most un(grate)full (bitch) (I)n the (world)………..

ending with

(U) w(i)ll (bee) an abandoned (house) wife. Nell Gwynn.

The Bute Collection at Mount Stuart has fantasticly humorous collection of portraiture and satirical etchings that mock the excesses of high fashion and politics in Georgian Britain. There are several, as this, attributed to Matthew Darly. He and his wife Mary specialised in caricature, firstly concentrating on political satire in the politically unstable 1750’s and then later on the world of fashion.

 

Courtesy of Bute Archive Mount Stuart

Bute Archive Mount Stuart

The Bute Collection contains 25,000 rare books and artefacts in one of the UK’s foremost private collections. Housed in the magnificent Gothic revival mansion of Mount Stuart on the isle of Bute, it provides a glimpse into centuries of art and history reflecting the interests of successive generations of the Bute family. Visitors can view everything from works on theology and ornithology to porcelain and custom-made furniture. A recent find of global significance is a Shakespeare First Folio containing many of the Bard’s most familiar plays.

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