Isaac and Ede Antique Prints
Housman Nancy Parsons

R. Housman after R. Renold

Miss Nancy Parsons

14½ x 23¼ inches

A full-length mezzotint portrait by 'Housman' after 'Renold'; published in London circa 1770.

This engraving is a wonderful parody of the age. The original portrait was that of Anne Elliott in the guise of Juno, engraved by James Watson after the society portrait artist Tilly Kettle. The plate was acquired, slightly reduced and the head reworked to transform Miss Elliott into the well-known courtesan and beauty, Miss Nancy Parsons. Every detail remains the same, save for the facial features. Along with the title, fictitious attributions have been added: the print now claims to be the work of Housman after Renold, surely a spoof of the acclaimed engraver Richard Houston and the famous artist Sir Joshua Reynolds. There is speculation that the rather severe features of Anne Elliott and her sorrowful visage were not a commercial success so the publishers decided to rework the plate in a mischievous way and replace her with a notorious beauty of the day.

Anne Parsons (1735-1815), also known as Nancy, was thought to have started her working life as a prostitute. She travelled to Jamaica with a Mr. Horton and although he died whilst they were there, she returned to London calling herself Mrs. Horton. She went on to become the mistress of many an influential figure and her reputation caused Horace Walpole to comment upon her thus: "The Duke of Dorset's Mrs. Horton, the Duke of Grafton's Mrs. Horton, everyone's Mrs. Horton".


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